“R-U-S-K Huskie Ruskies all the way, Number one we’re lots of fun, Throw it back until it’s done,
R-U-S-K party hardy everyday, Hot damn body slam, WE LOVE RUSK!”
– Rusk Eating House Cheer (Quips and Cranks, 2005)
Eating houses at Davidson straddle the line between social organizations and fraternities. They offer the same social and dining opportunities as Davidson College fraternities, but unlike fraternities, eating houses do not have national affiliations.
Prior to 1972, only a few all-male eating houses existed. Most, such as the “Munchies,” were formerly fraternities who became disaffiliated with their national organization. In 1973, when women were accepted into Davidson, the all-male eating houses disappeared; some closed, but most went co-ed.
There was soon a rallying cry for an all-female eating and social venue on the Court. Opponents of an all female eating house usually feared the arrival of sororities. Supporters of such a house argued that the house would be non-selective and non-national. The first all-female eating house, Rusk, finally opened in 1977.
In 2006, the last co-ed eating house closed. Eating houses had become female-only.
Munchies (1969-1972). Male
Originally the fraternity Sigma Chi, the group ended its national affiliation in October, 1969 due to declining membership and increasing national costs. The group folded in 1972 due to the implementation of the self-selection policy at Davidson College.
Random House (1971-1973). Male.
ATO “Apple-Turn-Over” (1971-1983) Male, co-ed after 1973
Alpha Tau Omega began as a fraternity at Davidson College in 1950. After losing its charter with the move to self-selection in the early 1970s, the house took the name “Apple-Turn-Over” and continued as a social house. It closed its doors in 1983.
Fannie & Mable (1971-1985) Male, co-ed after 1973
Fannie and Mable Co-Ed eating house was founded in 1971 when Kappa Sigma fraternity folded as a result of the self-selection policy. It became a co-ed eating with the admission of women to the College. The house was named for its two cooks, Fannie Brandon and Mable Torrence. It ceased operations in 1985.
Et Cetera (1974-1985). Co-ed
Et Cetera (or ETC) eating house was founded in 1974, in large part by members of the class of 1977, the first freshman class to include women. It closed in 1985.
Emanon (1971-1990). Co-ed
Patterson Court House #8
Emanon was established as one of the first four eating houses at Davidson College in 1971 after the reorganization of fraternities. It was also the first co-educational eating house. The name is “no name” spelled backwards. It closed in 1987.
PAX (1971-1990). Co-ed
Originally named Rho Alpha Chi, PAX Co-ed eating house was established at Davidson College in 1971. The house was meant to be “a backlash against fraternities and the Vietnam War that was born of the new self-selection rules and our new-age, hippie ideals” (Steve Earp, ’74). The house grew past an initial statement into a thriving member of the Court scene. It closed in 1990, and the building was renovated to become student housing.
Rusk (1977-). Female
Rusk eating house was founded in 1977 as the first women’s eating house. Rusk was named for Dean Rusk, Class of 1931 and Secretary of State during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. This began the continuing tradition of naming female eating house after Davidson alumni.
By April 1977, forty-six female students had signed into Rusk Eating House, which would open in the fall of that year. Nineteen of the women were rising juniors and seniors and twenty-seven were sophomores. Rusk moved into house 11 on Patterson Court in 1977. The college helped furnish the house, and Kappa Alpha donated picnic tables. Board was $270 a semester.
By the early 1980s, Rusk had grown so popular that it was filled to capacity and had a waiting list. Warner Hall opened in 1982, relieving Rusk’s over-population.
One of Rusk’s most famous traditions is its “Heaven and Hell” party, occurring annually since at least 1985. The main floor of Rusk is transformed into heaven, while its basement becomes hell. The ladies of Rusk and their guests chose to dress as angels or demons for the evening.
Warner Hall (1982-). Female
Warner Hall Eating House was founded at Davidson College in 1982 in response to overwhelming interest in more female eating houses. It was named for former President of the Trustees, Warner Hall. It became the second eating house founded exclusively for women. The eating house moved into their Patterson Court house in 1992.
Spencer (1985-1992). Female
Spencer House was the third women’s eating house established at Davidson College. The house was named after former Davidson College President Samuel R. Spencer, Jr, under whom the college became co-ed. Spencer House closed in 1992.
Connor (1991-). Female
Connor eating house was founded at Davidson College in 1991. Connor was named for Carol Connor Willingham, Class of 1977, an successful investment banker and active Davidson College alumna. Connor House moved into the current Patterson Court House in 1993.
Turner (1998-). Female
The Turner Women’s Eating House was founded in 1998 and opened in the Fall of 1998 in order to accommodate the demand for another eating house and the crowding occurring in the other three female eating houses. It is named after Catherine Turner, class of 1993, for her role as a service coordinator while at Davidson.
Originally slated to take over the old PAX house, a new house was constructed when PAX was needed to accommodate the large freshmen class. Members that signed up during the proposal for Turner in the Spring of 1998 totaled 78. The first president was Mary Shell Brosche, and the mascot is a frog. In the 2003-2004 academic year, the self-selection process was changed so that Turner received 32.8% of the new girls applying for entrance into women’s eating houses, which successfully combated the problem of dwindling membership.
CoHo (2000-2006). Co-ed
Patterson Court House #9
Founded by Ben Carter and Dane Erickson, both class of 2001, CoHo was a co-ed eating house. When it opened up Fall 2000, it had 54 members and four social members. Their color was baby blue and their emblem was the Coho salmon.
Since its inception, it had struggled with gaining enough members. The Court Selection change in 2003-2004 attempted to equalize the eating houses by giving a larger percentage of the incoming members to Turner and CoHo, but crippled CoHo by allowing women refuse to join a co-ed house.
In an effort to survive, Coho changed to social status instead of eating house status, meaning that it stopped offering a meal plan. Experiencing lack of new membership and a significant financial debt inherited from previous years, the 2005 membership of CoHo decided to close the house.
During 2005-2006 academic year the final 13 members managed to pay off the house’s entire debt. The house closed in the spring of 2006.
Eating Houses – Works Cited
Davidson College. Quips and Cranks. Davidson: Davidson College, 2005, 259.
Davidson College. Quips and Cranks. Davidson: Davidson College, 1985, 55.
Finding aid. Record Group 6/14.11. Alpha Tau Omega – Records, 1950-1983. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC
Finding aid. Record Group 6/14.102. CoHo (Co-ed Eating House) – Records, 2000-2006. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC
Finding aid. Record Group 6/14.31. Emanon Co-Ed Eating House – Records, 1985-1987. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC
Finding aid. Record Group 6/14.32. Fannie and Mable Co-Ed Eating House – Records, 1982-1985. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC
Finding aid. Record Group 6/14.33. PAX Co-Ed Eating House – Records, 1981-1990. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC
Finding aid. Record Group 6/14.36. Spencer Women’s Eating House – Records, 1986-1992. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC
Finding aid. Record Group 6/14.116. Turner Women’s Eating House – Records, 2001-. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC
Finding aid. Record Group 6/14.35. Warner Hall Women’s Eating House – Records, 1982-1989, 2003-. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC
“Fraternal and House System at Davidson College Timeline Toward 2000.” 2000. Patterson Court Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Holt, Ross. “‘Visions and Revisions’: A Patterson Court History.” Davidsonian. 29 April 1983: 5.
“Patterson Court” Student Life. 2006. Davidson College. 1.30.2008
“PAX Closing Ends Era.” Davidson Journal. Winter 1990: 26-27.
“Patterson Court Handbook.” 1986-7. Patterson Court Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Smyth, David. “Connor House Closer to Reality.” Davidsonian. 21 October 1991: 1
White, Lee. “Kuykendall Approves All Women’s Eating House.” Davidsonian. 8 February 1985: 1
“Women Continue Legacy of 25 years on Patterson Court.” Davidsonian. 23 October 2002. Patterson Court Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Author: Tammy Ivins
Date: February 2008
Cite as: Ivins, Tammy. “Eating Houses” Davidson Encyclopedia February 2008 <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/eating-houses/>