DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Some Duke University students could be facing expulsion or even criminal charges after a group of people lit a West Campus bench on fire to celebrate Duke’s 20-point win over UNC-Chapel Hill.
According to a letter from the university, a group gathered around a bench on West Campus and set it on fire “using accelerants and other debris.”
Although bonfires are not uncommon on Duke’s campus following big wins, those bonfires are permitted and often assisted by Duke or Durham officials. Saturday night’s bonfire was not.
The bonfire was “in violation of local laws and Duke University policy” and also represented “an extraordinary degree of safety risk to the active participants themselves and to other onlookers,” the university said.
The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards has begun a full investigation.
According to the university, “current students found responsible for engaging in egregious fire safety violations are subject to sanctions including suspension and/or dismissal from Duke University as well as referral to local authorities for possible civil or criminal investigation.”
Any non-students who participated in the bonfire will also be referred to local authorities for a possible investigation.
Duke said that it has “a well-established partnership with student leaders and local authorities to host bonfires” and that Saturday night’s incident puts future bonfire permits in jeopardy.
“While we wholeheartedly endorse students engaging in our shared celebratory traditions, they must be done within the boundaries of local and state law as well as University policies,” the letter concluded.
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