Last year, I organized and captained a tent full of Robertson Scholars-one from Duke, 11 from Carolina. I was one of the 19 who pulled off Duke apparel to reveal Carolina blue underneath and cheered for the Tar Heels amid the Cameron Crazies behind the UNC bench.
I had a blast seeing my team win, but even more so, I enjoyed the week of basketball craziness that is Krzyzewskiville the week before the Duke-Carolina game, an experience that has no equal at UNC.
I also realized afterward that our actions made a lot of Duke students mad-students who I have class with two days a week, students who I'll be living with next semester. A main goal of the Robertson Program is to build collaboration between Duke and UNC, and we weren't doing that.
We made a mistake.
Obviously, I can't speak for all Carolina Robertsons, only myself. But it is clear that our actions drove a wedge between Duke students and the Robertson program. The analogy I've heard used at Duke is that we were "burning bridges, not building them."
They have a point. If I am lucky enough to receive all the benefits of being a Robertson Scholar (including living for a half a year at a certain highly regarded university eight miles down the road from mine), then I believe I have a responsibility to uphold the Robertson Program's deeply set value of collaboration.
I came to this conclusion over the summer and drafted a letter to all UNC Robertson's stating what I have written here-that I believed we had made a mistake and should not tent in the same way again.
Before our internal dialogue could begin, however, K-ville's rules were changed. The new policy states: "Students are ineligible to tent if they were full-time students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the fall 2006 semester."
Let me be clear: I think our mistake was what we did in Cameron, not our participation as Duke students in tenting. That was an essential, incredible experience that helped me understand what being a Duke student is about. Other than one undergrad I talked to-"Living in a tent for basketball tickets? Everyone here is crazy!"-who could argue that tenting is not necessary to fully experience Duke?
Believe me, we don't have anything like that in Chapel Hill, where the administration has moved to an online ticket distribution system that has all the excitement of ordering from Ticketmaster. And I can guarantee that I've never felt the Dean Dome shake, like Cameron did when Duke made a run in the closing minutes last year. I'm a Carolina fan, yes, but also a sports fan who appreciates that K-ville is one of the most storied traditions not only at Duke, but in all of sports.
Of course, this still leaves the obvious question of why anyone at Duke should care about building collaboration between the Duke and Carolina. Most Duke students aren't Robertsons-and a few were even left watching last year's game on TV because we were in the stands.
You should care because the Robertson Program's goal of collaboration has bettered the student experience at both schools. Some students now actually go to the rival campus on occasion-a product of the Robertson Express Bus, as well as the changing attitude the program has brought. I have seen Duke students at a John Ashcroft Speech in Memorial Hall, UNC students trying fried Twinkies at Oktoberfest, and the occasional out-of-place shade of blue on Franklin and Ninth Streets.
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There are also the dozens of joint projects that wouldn't happen without the Program, including the one I hold dear, the Duke-Carolina Student Basketball Marathon-an event that proves Duke and Carolina students actually can be civil when it comes to basketball.
I hope the Duke Line Monitors and Student Government reconsider the K-ville tenting policy this year; that we collaborate and find common ground. I've talked with dozens of Duke students about tenting, and while many haven't agreed with me, we have had healthy, respectful discussions. I hope that dialogue continues.
If that means that I sit in a slightly different part of Cameron or wear an unmarked navy blue shirt and remain silent during Duke free throws at the game, so be it-just don't ask me to hold out my arm and wiggle my fingers at Tyler Hansbrough.
David Suitts is a UNC sophomore Robertson Scholar.