SGA has retained its historical role in addressing social concerns and raising money in order to create a better environment for Davidson students in the present and in the future. While SGA is not focused on being engaged in direct service, it has developed ways for students to become involved in bettering the Davidson community.
Dinner at Davidson
Through the leadership of Jordan Starck ‘12, the external affairs committee was able to develop a way for SGA and Davidson college students to give back and provide for future generations of students. Starck and his fellow committee members went to work organizing a dinner that would include various community members and alumni with the purpose of raising funds for the Davidson Trust. [Starck]
The Davidson Trust, an endowment created in 2007, allows students who were receiving financial aid to obtain additional grants so that they could graduate debt free. [Boraks] Through Dinner at Davidson, SGA and much of the student body wished to continue to add funds to the Davidson Trust, ensuring that future students would also be able to graduate without debt.
Starck describes an initial lack of interest and funding for the 2010 event. Many organizations began to get involved, however, offering their services to enrich the event with music and stories. Items were also donated for a silent auction by community members and students, from $10 gift cards to over $500 worth of art and services. [Hackenson. Davidson Journal]
For all their efforts, the first Dinner at Davidson yielded $3500 for the Davidson Trust, and a second Dinner at Davidson was planned to continue the tradition of giving back and investing in the future of Davidson.
The program grew exponentially form the first year, and in 2011 more than 300 students volunteered to set up, chaufeur guests, run the auction, and to write letters to alumni. In all, students donated around $1000 and hundreds of hours to the event. The Davidson Trust gained over $20,000 through the event and a scholarship was established “for a student that will dedicate him/herself to the credo of the Davidson Trust,” says Billy Hackenson ‘13, who worked on the Dinner at Davidson project for both years.
The event is now an annual tradition at Davidson. Students, community members, and alumni are brought together for a dinner that will ultimately greatly impact the lives of future Davidson students. As speaker Kaniesha Gaston ’13 explained, “The importance of the Trust is not in the number of diverse students we bring to campus because of the promise of leaving debt-free…[t]he importance of the Trust is the opportunity it provides for students to leave Davidson with…a new model for how a society can and should function when it embraces previously marginalized voices. These are lessons and an education that will affect millions.” [Boraks] (Full quote available at: http://davidsonnews.net/2011/02/23/dinner-at-davidson-raises-20k-for-new-scholarship/)
The Big Talk
SGA as well as the Patterson Court Council (PCC) worked to provide an open student discussion on March 24, 2011, termed “(Re)Defining Davidson: The Big Talk.” The discussion came in response to heated debates about issues of cultural insensitivity. The context and need for this event was due to multiple instances on campus. In one instance, there was a need to change party names due to perceived stereotyping in order to alleviate any possible perception of cultural insensitivity. In other cases, the need for programs like STRIDE, which provides an additional orientation for minority students, and other minority programs and organizations were called into question. While still other issues surrounded the recently proposed composition change in the SGA. [Cubas]
Caption: One of several publicity posters advertising the Big Talk
A joint effort between the two organizations allowed students to meet in the Student Union and share their opinions on the issue free from debate or prejudices. Students gathered in small groups to ask questions, voice concerns, and listen to opposing viewpoints. Varying opinion pieces that had been anonymously submitted by students were read aloud and discussed. [Cubas]
“In the planning for and execution of the event, SGA and PCC strove to fulfill the coined terms for the event: open discussion, sharing perspectives, recognizing differences and strengthening community.” [Cubas] Through the small discussion groups, student facilitators to mediate conversation, and the random separation of students into groups, students were able to engage each other in a valuable and diverse discussion. This discussion not only helped students develop a better understanding of the issues on campus on a broader scale but also worked to build a stronger Davidson community. “(Re)Defining Davidson: The Big Talk is only one event of a series to continue to help strengthen our community and to develop and grow as one.” [Cubas]
SGA has and will continue to provide services for the Davidson College student body not only in the form of direct community service, but also through enacting positive policy change that will serve to benefit the students they represent.
Boraks, David. “Dinner at Davidson raises $20k for new scholarship.” Davidsonnews.net. Web.
April 2011. http://davidsonnews.net/2011/02/23/dinner-at-davidson-raises-20k-for-newscholarship.
Cubas, Nathalya. Personal Interview. 4 Apr. 2011.
Hackenson, Billy. “Trust in Me and I’ll Trust in You.” Davidson Journal. Web. April 2011. <http://davidsonjournal.davidson.edu/?p=609>
Hackenson, Billy. Personal Interview. 4 Apr. 2011.
Starck, Jordan. Personal Interview. 24, Mar. 2011.
Author: Matt Zarth
Date: 21 April 2011
Cite as: Zarth, Matt. “Dinner at Davidson & Big Talk (SGA)” Davidson Encyclopedia. April 2011. <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/dinner-at-davidson-big-talk-sga/>