One hundred thirty six tents walked into Cameron Indoor Stadium last night. Seventy Black tents walked out. Over one-fourth of Duke’s undergraduate population took K-Ville’s Black tenting test Thursday, with the hopes of punching their ticket to the Feb. 4 men’s basketball game against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
If they score well enough, the top 70 teams will begin setting up their tents this Saturday, spending their next weeks vying for spirit awards and studying for yet another trivia contest to determine their tent ranking. By Jan. 20, they’ll be joined by the next top 10 scorers as they begin Blue tenting.
As the final batch of White and Flex tents unpack their sleeping bags after a nightlong scavenger hunt, tenters will prepare for a night of Personal Checks on Jan. 27, also known as P-Checks, amid a smorgasbord of food trucks and a blaring concert. In order for a tenter to be eligible for the long-anticipated UNC game, they must check in to at least three P-Checks throughout the night.
Putting pen to paper
Only four students touched the test before another 1,632 pounced on it. The vice president line monitors, junior Aida Anderson and senior Langley Barnes, created an extensive question bank, assembling the test’s final draft with submissions from two other line monitors. The highly secretive test, seen not even by the head line monitors — seniors Didac Garcia-Grau and Emma Smith — was printed by Duke Athletics under the test’s stringent security policies.
Students were tested on information about the current men’s basketball team and season to make tenting more equitable for “students of all ages and varying degrees of Duke basketball knowledge prior to attending Duke,” according to K-Ville’s official gameday policy. Following a similar structure to previous years’ tests, the test covered Duke men's basketball both on and off the court.
Despite falling short of last year’s record-breaking 174 tents, the 136 tents crowding the floor and sporadically clustering about the stands were “leaps and bounds ahead of the past four years that we've had tenting,” according to Smith.
In order for a test to occur, 80 Black tents must register within 24 hours of the registration form opening. This year marked only the fourth time a tenting test occurred in the University’s history.
Garcia-Grau pointed to last year being a “perfect storm” for record-breaking numbers, with Coach K’s last season colliding with the emergence from a COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the 136 tents this season were “almost bigger” than the line monitors’ expectations.
“Given how many people attended and participated last year, we were almost expecting burnout,” he said. “We weren't going to hit last year's numbers. Last year was perfect. But there’s still a commitment by the University to this community.”
That very community began to trickle into Cameron Indoor Stadium over an hour before the 10 p.m. test even started. A flurry of yellow wristbands dropped piles of bags along the entrance, as the court filled with nervous chatter.
However, the noise at the start came nowhere close to the raucous that later occurred when Jon Scheyer, head coach of Duke's men’s basketball team, made his entrance 10 minutes before the test. In a short speech, he thanked the Cameron Crazies for their support.
“It means the world. You guys are the best,” he said. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for your amazing support.”
The excitement went both ways — Scheyer’s first year and “an energy about the Scheyer era” played a role in junior Allison Falls’ decision to begin tenting this year. Junior Victoria Kovarik called Scheyers’ year “a whole different arena,” pointing to the team’s first-year presence in addition to a new coach.
Despite a “bumpy start,” senior Rajit Shah believes that Duke’s program is “in good hands.”
“It's hard being the head of such a big program. He has that Duke connection, and he probably knows what's best for our program, so I really do trust him,” added sophomore Sam Shi.
Financial aid and accessibility
While Smith pointed out that the impacts of K-Ville’s new financial aid program are “too soon to tell,” she hoped that the program would make K-Ville more accessible so that students could “participate on an equal playing field.”
For first-year Fernanda Villalva Moreno, it made all the difference.
“I come from a low-income background, and I was actually worried about buying a sleeping bag and what is even needed, and not being able to afford it,” she said. “I think that was what convinced me to actually participate in the testing process because I knew that wouldn't be a problem.”
Students were told prior to the test if they qualified for financial aid. Once the results of the tenting test were finalized, line monitors submitted the NetIDs of all who qualified for financial aid and tenting to the University administration.
Despite these first steps, some students still feel that tenting is in desperate need of reform. Junior Jadyn Cleary pointed out how, even with some financial aid, tenting is “still time and money,” which makes it difficult for working students to take on.
Accessibility was also a concern.
“There's not a lot of grace if you have a medical emergency, learning disability or just if you have a disability that prevents you from tenting. Inherently, there is a lottery, but that's imperfect. It robs disabled students of the experience of doing it with others,” she said. “There could be more accommodations made ... but there aren't enough.”
For some, the decision to tent boiled down to just four words: “Shortest ever tenting season!” said senior Brandi Martin.
“You don’t have to spend more than a month in the cold,” Kovarik quipped.
But their journey towards the shortest tenting season started with an hour-long test, followed by a night of nail-biting anxiety. As students began shuffling out, some felt confident in their results.
“We got everything we knew down — don't want to sit there and talk ourselves out of what we know, so [we] just got everything out,” said senior Alexa Goble.
Others appreciated the changes from last year’s test. Seniors Anna Shenk-Evans and Morgan Feist felt that the test was “more things you would actually know” and not as specific as “Theo John’s dog’s birthday.”
Of course, you can’t plan for everything. Both Goble and sophomore Emma Maddock felt that they could have focused more on social media — urging their past selves to spend more time scrolling through the players’ TikToks.
The evening didn’t stop for the line monitors. While students finished their test at 11:15 p.m., the line monitors graded through the night to release results in the morning. Despite the long hours, the line monitors couldn’t contain their excitement — Barnes pointed to the “butterflies in [her] stomach.”
“It’s really great to be a part of so many Duke students' journeys and be involved in what is a lot of people's favorite part of Duke,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, we're all there because we love Duke basketball.”
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Audrey Wang is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.