Local News

Benches At Duke University Look More Like Works Of Art Than Furniture

Posted Updated
Switch to classic wral.com

DURHAM — For years, benches atDuke Universitywere not just for sitting. They were for burning. Bonfires surrounded by thousands of Cameron Crazies have been fueled by big Blue Devil basketball victories, but now students are taking a calmer approach.

Freshmen rivalries are legendary on the Duke campus. Tipping and burning benches outside dorms is a long-standing tradition, but this year, freshmen pride is showing its artistic side.

The bench rivalry started when students at Giles Dorm painted their bench based on a children's story. That is when Pegram Dorm residents looked to the Renaissance for inspiration.

"As soon as Giles did theirs because there's is really good too, and they were kind of cocky about it, so then it was like we've got to do something good," says artist Carrie Able.

Neighboring Bassett Dorm also entered the bench wars. It is a friendly freshmen competition and a unique way to promote the arts on campus. There is hope these works of art will also put an end to the more destructive bench wars of old.

"It beautifies the school. It shows visitors we enjoy Duke, and how we take pride in our school," says Pegram Dorm resident Evan D'Amico.

With so much time invested in the bench creations, the students say it is unlikely any of them will be fuel for a bonfire -- even if a championship basketball game is in Duke's future.