What would you do with $40,000?
Forty thousand dollars is seriously life-changing money, and having that sort of money to use freely opens up countless avenues. You could buy a car. Use it as a down payment for a house. Go on vacation.
Or, you could choose to give it to wannabe-Yale. Twice a year.
That’s the choice around 1,600 of our neighbors up the Tobacco Road make annually. For about $40,000 a semester, Duke students are given the opportunity to wildly inflate the cost of goods in Durham with daddy’s money, get raucously drunk in a barn with hedge fund kids dressed as cowboys and pretend like they give a rat’s ass about basketball.
Speaking of basketball, you may know that we at UNC have a little thing going on with Duke's team. Every year, come rivalry season, a corner of Duke’s disgustingly pristine, faux-collegiate-gothic campus undergoes a bit of a makeover.
Remember how Duke kids pay nearly $40,000 a semester? Well, some of them get tired of their cushy dorms (some Duke dorms have full-sized beds?), so they pack up and spend up to a quarter of that semester in a tent. And boom – a tradition.
The messy array of tents hoisted on splintered wooden pallets juxtaposes nicely with the pastiche stone buildings surrounding them. It’s a nice reminder that you can live in a tent for extended periods of time without being harassed by authorities, as long as you’re rich. In typical Duke fashion, their rendition of a Depression-era Hooverville comes laden with excessive rules and administration.
“Tenting” is the process by which Duke students acquire tickets to the UNC v. Duke basketball game played at Cameron Stadium. About eighty lots in Krzyzewskiville, the area in front of Cameron Stadium, are distributed to the top scorers of an exam that tests participants on trivia about the Duke basketball team. The tenting test features some truly obscure questions. For example: “What month of what year did Kyle Filipowski’s girlfriend’s American Red Cross-issued CPR certification expire?”
“I studied more for that test than any test at Duke,” said an exasperated Gabrielle Gitman, a first-year at Duke whose group was lucky enough to get a spot.
After a spot is secured, tenting can go on for up to eight weeks. The first, most intense period of tenting, known as “black tenting," requires two people from a 12-person group to stay in K-Ville at all times during the day and 10 people from each group to sleep in their tent every night. Tenting then goes through two more periods leading up to the game that get progressively less strict. Because the Duke-UNC game at Cameron is relatively early this year, Duke students enjoyed a short three-week tenting period.
Sleeping in a tent for any extended period of time, however, is no small feat. Our fair state is unpredictable with her winter weather, and by virtue of college basketball season, Duke students are forced to weather the brunt of her 20-degree nights and freezing rain.
How does one cope with living in such conditions? Well, based on the bottles strewn about between the tents, I’d guess the Duke kids were doing it the classy way: drinking.
Duke senior Elliot Rosen confirms this hunch for me. “A lot of people are usually drinking, just because it makes it easier to stand in the cold,” he remarks.
The main enemy in K-Ville doesn’t seem to be the cold, or the pervasive alcohol consumption or even big, bad UNC. No, most of the hatred seemed to be directed towards the tent monitors. Clad in blue windbreakers, the tent monitors will randomly blare a siren at any hour of day or night and bark at the Duke students until every tent is accounted for. These maligned bureaucrats exist solely to inflict psychological torture to the constituents of K-Ville, which might explain some of Duke’s post-game traditions.
So what happens after the game? If Duke loses, peace on Earth. If Duke wins, you better hope you’re not a bench on Duke campus. Bench-burning seems to be the way Duke students vent the abuse heaped upon them in the previous weeks. As such, they take it very seriously — no bench is safe.
For example, Duke senior Michael Wood shares a story resulting from UNC’s 2020 loss off the back of a Tre Jones buzzer beater, in which the Kameron Krazies almost set the Dean of Students, and the bench she was sitting on, ablaze with a handle of Aristocrat Vodka and gasoline.
“That bench doesn’t burn. We burned another one. Too bad,” Wood grimaces, his sadism peeking out a bit.
I’d feel a little less guilty about being so cruel to Duke if the people I talked to reciprocated my vitriol, but besides the occasional GTHC, everyone seemed relatively cordial and eager to watch what is bound to be a good game – and ultimately, a piece of history.
I, however, am not above being petty and unsportsmanlike.
Hubert, Armando, Caleb and the rest of you, please: go out there and slap some Duke kids around for us. And make them take their stupid tents with them too.
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