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Duke removes West Campus benches to prevent illegal bench burning after Final Four game

Workers were seen shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday moving benches from West Campus onto a truck.
Workers were seen shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday moving benches from West Campus onto a truck.

Braving the rain on a gloomy Thursday afternoon, a group of workers lifted a green campus bench onto a truck to be whisked away—part of Duke’s plan to prevent a repeat of February’s illicit bonfire.

Duke has a permit to perform an official bench burning on Monday, the day of the men’s basketball national championship, according to Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president for student affairs. If Duke wins their Final Four game against North Carolina Saturday evening, then the benches will be brought back out Monday morning.

“The permit gets submitted 90 days in advance,” McMahon wrote when asked if Duke had attempted to get a permit for a Saturday fire. “It’s unprecedented, obviously, to have Duke and UNC play on a neutral tournament site.”

There will be “further details” this week, she wrote. 

In February, students attempted to burn a bench after Duke defeated North Carolina at an away game in Chapel Hill. The following evening, Duke’s Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards announced they planned to launch a “full investigation” into students who participated, writing that the students did not have a bonfire permit and posed a safety risk to onlookers.

Bench burning—where students set a bench from a West Campus quad on fire—is a tradition after big basketball wins, and there is a history of administrative crackdowns on unsanctioned fires. Duke seeks permits for the bonfires after Duke’s basketball teams defeat North Carolina at home games or win national championships. 


Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin was editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 116th volume.


Leah Boyd

Leah Boyd is a Pratt senior and a social chair of The Chronicle's 118th volume. She was previously editor-in-chief for Volume 117.

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