Duke University’s famous tent village, Krzyzewskiville, was ordered to clear out due to concerns over the flu Wednesday night.
Since the tradition officially began in 1986, Duke students have annually lined up outside Cameron Indoor Stadium in tents and sleeping bags starting as early as New Years in order to guarantee a spot at the season’s Duke-UNC basketball game.
Students were informed Wednesday night during one of the camp’s periodic line checks that they had “grace until further notice,” according to Duke sophomore Giselle Vargas, who was checking in for a 10 p.m. shift when she learned she was free to go home for the night.
“I was kind of expecting it — I didn’t think that they would shut down K-Ville for a week, though,” Vargas said.
Vargas said she had noticed the number of students who have come down with the flu in recent weeks, including herself.
On Thursday, Duke students received an email from Duke's vice president for student affairs, Larry Moneta.
“I now know how to get world-wide attention!” Moneta wrote in an email. “Just ask that K-Ville go on extended grace period because of risks of flu exposure! I've had more media attention today than in my 45-year career!”
In the email, Moneta said the decision to declare a grace period in Krzyzewskiville was made based on advice from several medical staff.
“K-Ville's intimate living conditions just make that environment particularly welcoming for virus sharing,” he wrote, “We'll get K-Ville back in operation as soon as we feel that conditions warrant it.”
According to The News & Observer, Moneta told reporters Thursday that 125 students had gone to the school’s wellness center for treatment since Jan. 10 and six to seven Krzyzewskiville campers were among those ill.
Vargas said the general reaction of campers to the news of extended grace was that of relief.
“I mean it’s very fun to be tenting and the environment is really cool, but at the same time, ideally you don’t want to be sleeping in 30 degrees,” she said.
Vargas, however, added that students who were selected to enforce the line rules and policies at Krzyzewskiville were disappointed.
“It’s a big culture here and to have so much time off from it kind of defeats the purpose,” she said.
There is a strict hierarchy of tenting in Krzyzewskiville, which divides tents by allowed move-in times, group sizes and attendance requirements. The most intense type of tenting is known as black tenting.
According to Krzyzewskiville’s website, kvillenation.com, “The most hard-core fans start tenting during the Black Tenting period, which begins the day before the second semester commences.”
Black tenting requires two students to be present during the day and 10 at night.
Vargas, who was black tenting, said it’s very typical in Krzyzewskiville for 12 students to be in a single tent group. Krzyzewskiville allows 100 tents each year, meaning the population of the tent village can reach 1,200.
“That’s a lot of people to be sleeping next to, especially when everyone is sick,” Vargas said.
Grace periods are typically called for weather-related issues. For example, a grace period is called if the temperature goes below 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above 25, though, and students are expected and required to be in their tents.
“They’ve given us a lot of grace this year, more than before,” Vargas said. “Because of weather conditions, like snowing, and there was a lot of raining and thundering one day, and it’s been very cold.”
In his email to students, Moneta urged all students, in all-caps, to get their flu shot. The school has offered another round of flu shots at their wellness center, which quickly attracted a large amount of students, Moneta told reporters.
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