What began as a cry of victory for the likes of those who occupied the bench in protest last spring has now turned into the stunned silence of pity. Displaced DSigs have been spotted all over campus, doing just what they had always done before: sitting shirtless.

However, this year, instead of inciting scorn, jealousy, or even lust, the notorious Topless Tradition of the brothers of Delta Sigma Phi has failed to do much more than cause some bewildered, albeit sympathetic, headshakes. It seems that since their fraternity section left Duke’s West Campus, these hopeless frat stars just don’t know where they belong.

Duke Police has been flooded with reports of “confused-looking, well-muscled young men, loitering in minimal clothing.”  Coach K thought perhaps that tenting was starting early this year and offered one brother some blue body paint after passing him sitting on the grass of K-ville for the fourth consecutive day. President Broadhead experienced what doctors could only explain as “PTSD-like symptoms” after witnessing a gaggle of nine young men sitting shirtless on the balcony one morning. Meanwhile, a perplexed Christoph Guttentag questioned, “Is this a Harambe thing?”

Chests out for Harambe? Not likely, Dean. The phenomenon of shirtless sitting has more to do with confusion than purpose. Now that their throne is gone, it seems that these once-great monarchs of Abele Quad have been reduced to no more than monarch butterflies in search of milkweed.

There is almost nowhere these men won’t sit. They’ve been sighted on every floor of Perkins, the barbershop in the Bryan Center, and even Marketplace. Witnesses have spotted them as high as the top of the Chapel and as low as the tunnels. They are baring their chests among book stacks and haystacks alike, doing anything from straddling the camel on Science Dr. to cozying up on Washington Duke’s lap. Rain or shine, night and day, a crowded bus or an open flowerbed—shirtless they sit.  

The bare, yellow bench stands alone on campus as the one structure that goes un-sat upon by the bare-chested brothers. It occupies the space where the DSig bench once sat, calling attention to the “NEXUS” sign that hangs from the stone wall of Craven House B—a wall that once bore the letters: ∆∑Φ

Recently, the confusion has been spreading beyond the simple question of where to sit. One sophomore saw a hopeful DSig toss a football straight at a wall, only to look utterly crestfallen when it fell lifeless to the ground. A few professors have observed “those boys with the ball caps” hanging American flags from their desks during class.

And still, shirtless they sit.

University administration is encouraging students and faculty to simply leave the befuddled brothers be. V.P. of Student Affairs Larry Moneta would like to remind the student body: “They’re more scared of you than you are of them.”


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