Student Conduct

Bridge Painting

The purpose of this policy is to ensure an aesthetically pleasing campus, protect university facilities, and allow for students to use the “Free Expression” bridge/tunnel without damaging neighboring property. Individuals and student groups may express opinions within this area that are not restricted by content, except by legal standards.

The surface of the “Free Expression” bridge/tunnel (located on Campus Drive under Main Street) may be painted within the span of the ceiling of the tunnel (but not the ceiling itself), as well as on the outer edge of the Pettigrew Bridge facing Campus Drive and, the exterior (inner) face of the concrete Campus Drive tunnel walls. However, painting is not allowed on the sidewalks or roadways inside or outside the tunnel. Supplies are the responsibility of the painter(s) and are not provided by the university. Painter(s) may not impede the flow of traffic. Any ladders used may not exceed six feet.

There is no restriction regarding painting over the sections of the tunnel that other people or student groups have painted—no matter how recently they have been painted. However, animosity is often generated toward student groups who paint over sections that are advertising events not yet held or sections painted very recently. Please use courtesy and common sense when selecting an area of the tunnel to paint.

Any person may remove non-conforming material. Policy violations resulting in the need for restoration should be reported to Duke University Police. Reimbursement for any restoration costs (i.e., paint removal, cleaning, removal of residual substances, and so on) will be the responsibility of the violating party.

No painting will be allowed at any other locations on the campus of Duke University, including these areas near the tunnel:

Where you can paint the bridge

Painting is permitted on the outer edge of the Pettigrew Bridge facing Campus Drive and the exterior (inner) face of the concrete Campus Drive tunnel walls. 


No Painting

the Main Street bridge and the railroad trestle;


No Painting

the Duke stone walls;

No Painting

 the Pettigrew Street Bridge (side of the bridge on Pettigrew Street not overlooking Campus Drive);

No Painting

 on any light poles, signs or sign posts;

No Painting

 the steps and handrails from Campus Drive to Pettigrew Street;

No Painting

 any handrails, roadways or sidewalks, even located inside the tunnel; or fencing along the Main Street Bridge.

Students or student groups who violate these expectations will be held accountable through the university’s disciplinary processes and may also be subject to criminal charges. Note that that defacement of any public property (i.e., property not owned by Duke) is a violation of North Carolina law.

Although there is no restriction on the content painted on the Free Expression tunnel and the Pettigrew Bridge (except by legal standards), painters should consider the broad effect of what is depicted/written on the walls on the overall campus climate.

Consider these questions as you plan to paint:

  • Is the content in generally good taste?
  • Does the content offend or target a specific person or group of people?
  • Is the content something that could be taken out of context and appear harmful?
  • Is it something that visitors to Duke can appreciate?