Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's official: Vandwellers are banned from Duke

I was writing the epilogue of my book, and I needed to figure out one last thing: Have vandwellers been banned from Duke as a result of my experiment?

I annoyed Duke's Parking and Transportation Services Office with calls and emails for months, but they refused to respond to my inquiries, so I--pressed for time--approached Duke's office of Public Affairs.

Apparently, vandwellers have been banned. Here's the new rule:

4.17.5 Overnight or extended parking of campers, vans, buses, etc., utilized as living and sleeping quarters within campus boundaries, is not permitted unless approved by Parking and Transportation Services.

While I acknowledge that Duke is a big, sprawling billion-dollar corporate bureaucracy, and they have to cover their asses, I still think the rule is stupid. I could name a hundred reasons why, but I've already done so, so there's no need to beat a dead horse.

Their reason? From one Duke spokesman: "As a private institution, Duke can determine the permitted and appropriate use of its facilities. Living in the parking lot is not permitted for reasons of safety, security, health and liability."


mikeBOS said...

Next they'll ban graduating without student loans.

Romana S said...

Well Ken, it has been a long way from when you first posted on the Vandwellers group on December 12 2008.
It has been a long journey, getting from there to here, in both the physical and metaphorical sense.
I hope the journey continues well and you keep writing.

I have loved reading about your adventures, travels, studies, writing and more. I especially have loved your posts about that girl who was having brain seizures from studying too hard and the trip out to the Magic Bus.

So, what next for Ken Ilgunas? Ever considered a trip down under?

Ken said...

Mike--The conspiracy theorist in me wants to complain about "them" controlling us and keeping us in debt. Really, though, it's just a stupid bureaucratic policy that they almost have to enforce. The university is so huge and so sensitive about PR that they must consider all possibilities of getting nailed by frivolous lawsuits. Everyone's so damned scared of lawsuits...

Romana--Ha, I'm tickled you found that 2008 message. I never really could get someone to reassure me about vandwelling way back then... And thank you for the kind words. I've merely taken a break from adventures to finish this book (which is taking longer than I ever would have imagined). I have two big summer hiking adventures that are in the works. For the first, I am going to go on a hike (and do a magazine article) with the greatest hiker in the world (a 3-day hike in the Rockies). For the second, I must keep quiet, but if I do it, it will be a hike that no one has ever done or will do again.

Anonymous said...

What did you expect? A huge University to have a policy that says everyone can camp out in the parking lot? They gave you a surprising nod by even leaving the window open with permission. Grow up, silly Ken.

Ken said...

Anon--There are at least 36 million debtors. There is over $1 trillion in student debt. Duke, itself, can cost over $50K a year for some students. What did I expect? I expected this. What do I thing should have be done? Schools like Duke should be bending over backwards to make education affordable. In this case, that simply means not making a rule at all. I lived in those lots for two years without doing any harm to myself or the university. Anyone who knows Duke knows that their parking lots will never be filled with "campers"--maybe just one or two vans or RVs in which students could live simply and save.

brotherdoc said...

Our local Foxx-tracker just posted the link to your column in today's Winson-Salem Journal and I wanted to congratulate you and wish you well on your book.

Anonymous said...

Until we stop forking over more and more money for student aid / Pell grants / low interest subsidized loans for students, the universities will never be forced to compete with each other on price based on what students can ACTUALLY afford.

Until we stop the free money, the universities will keep all of the administrative bloat and pay their top administrators (none of whom teach) hundreds of thousands every year.

The government intervention is the problem. Kill the "free" money (that isn't so free) and we will get a rational education system taylored to what the free market can bear. Loan forgiveness just encourages the problem / moral hazard, etc.

the same problem is playing out in the housing market, where houses in many areas remain stubbornly overpriced becasue you can (STILL) buy houses for practicially nothing down as a forst time home buyer using FHA loans (3.5% down) and the gov. is keeping interest rates artificially low. All of this just keeps home ownership out of reach for the poor and middle class - precicely the opposite effect than what was originally intended.

there is my libertarian take. consider it.

George Carlson said...

Couldn't you just park in a private lot?