Fake News @ Davidson, A Multidisciplinary Discussion and a Humor Column

FOILING FAKE NEWS: A MULTIDISCIPLINARY DISCUSSION ON NAVIGATING THE MEDIA

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2017 – 11:05 AM – 12:05 PM
Fake news has become a buzzword that can mean many things to many people. But what does it mean for us at Davidson? How prepared are students to identify fake news and navigate today’s media? How might a liberal arts approach inform our understanding of fake news and help us avoid being taken in by it? Join us for a panel discussion to explore these questions. Librarians will present data about incoming Davidson students’ ability to evaluate media sources and faculty members will bring their unique disciplinary training to bear on the issue of fake news.

LOCATION
Knobloch Campus Center Alvarez- Smith 900 Room

Foiling Fake News poster

There have been a number of college humor magazines in Davidson’s history: Scripts and Pranks, The David’s Onion, The Davidphonian, The Devoidsonian and The Yowl; although, The Yowl is the only edition to be reawakened in the twenty-first century.  In 2004, it reappeared as a column in “The Davidsonian”, bringing its version of the news to provide entertainment to the Davidson community.  The final issue of the 2016-2017 academic term proclaimed, “This Issue Brought to You By: Undying Cynicism”  and provided “The Yowl’s Year in Review.”  The September 7, 2017 issue, in keeping with the theme of fake news, stated, “This Issue Brought To You By: A Gross Violation of Journalistic Integrity.”

 

Earth Day – Davidson Style

A recent donation from alumnus and environmental ethics leader Holmes Rolton III (class of 1953) raised the question of Davidson’s engagement with environmental issues including Earth Day.

Some of the dvds in a recent donation documenting Holmes Rolston III's work in environmental ethics.

Some of the dvds in a recent donation documenting Holmes Rolston III’s work in environmental ethics.

The annual celebrations of Earth Day began in 1970 and a few Davidson students made sure the college joined in that first year.

Headline and photo from 24 April 1970 Davidsonian

Headline and photo from 24 April 1970 Davidsonian

The students paired with the Union cafeteria to create a display of paper cups and litter, they also helped with trash clean up in town and passed out flyers encouraging people to drive their cars less. Their efforts met with some resistance. One faculty member declined to purchase a 40 cent  bumper sticker  (which said “Did you thank a green plant today?”) noting that he’d rather support the anti-war cause. Another questioned the rationale of putting anti-pollution stickers on polluting cars.  Undaunted, the students planned an environmental awareness teach-in with faculty and Congressman Nick Galifinakas.

The initial enthusiasm appears to have faded and in the next decade, Spring Frolics, Convocations, International Festivals, Easter breaks, and Alumni Weekends pushed Earth Day off campus calendars. Concerns over environmental issues grew again in the late 1980s, supported by Ruth Pittard in her role as program coordinator for the college union.  While not held on the official date, a 4-day Environmental Awareness Weekend was held April 5-8, 1989 with films, speakers and a repetition of the inaugural Earth Day’s display of campus trash.

Cover for Environmental Weekend program

Cover for Environmental Weekend program

With the formation of the Environmental Action Coalition (EAC) as a student organization, Earth Day returned to Davidson. Instead of losing out to competing events, the Earth Day organizers often joined forces with other groups to combine their events with Frolics and Community Service’s Into the Streets programming

1990 Earth Day trash display

1990 Earth Day trash display

27 April 1992 Davidsonian account of Earth Day.

27 April 1992 Davidsonian account of Earth Day.

1993 Earth Day joins with Spring Fling events

1993 Earth Day joins with Spring Fling events

In 1995, Earth Day becomes a part of community service via Into the Streets

In 1995, Earth Day becomes a part of community service via Into the Streets.

In the late nineties, Earth Day went solo but with a twist – other campus organizations began to participate.  The 1999 celebration had student organizations and town businesses setting up booths.  One unnamed group returned to the theme of discouraging car use asking people to stop driving for one week. Warner Hall helped people sign up to avoid junk mail. It also expanded into weeks and even Earth Month in 2005.

In 2002, the Physical Plant workers weighed in with an information ad in the Davidsonian.

Physical Plant sharing recycling numbers.

Physical Plant sharing recycling numbers.

In the same issue of the Davidson, an editorial “Earth Day + Fun = Kegs” raised the question of whether having kegs would be a more environmentally friendly approach to reduce Patterson Court trash.

In 2005,  Earth Day plus fun meant the first Green Ball hosted jointly by the EAC and the Davidson Lands Conservancy.

Beginning of 27 April 2005 article on the Green Ball

Beginning of 27 April 2005 article on the Green Ball

The inaugural Green Ball, featuring contra dancing and a silent auction, raised over $5000.   Still a popular event, the 2016 ball raised

The college proclaimed 2009 the Year of Sustainability, with a special Green Week happening in February rather than April. In 2012, Earth Day became part of Greenstock with information booths and student performers taking over the Union atrium.  In 2017,  EarthDay will spread beyond the campus as alumni chapters across the country join volunteer days for beach cleanups, recycling electronics, prepping community gardens and more.

 

Open Houses

Late December and early January are popular times for open house events. Time was at Davidson when open house meant not a holiday party but student-faculty gatherings.

Anne Sampson recalled inviting students to “dinner or to supper and play “Authors” afterwards–We got a little organ and they came Sunday evenings to sing from supper time till Church– In this way we wanted every boy in College at least once or twice a year.” From these informal evenings in the 1880s, a pattern later emerged of students calling on faculty on Sunday evenings after the college’s weekly vesper service.  Faculty wives would prepare light snacks and students would wind their way to professors’ home for a time of light conversation.

By 1946, the practice had been formalized and written on the weekly vespers pew sheet:

Vespers program 17 March 1946

Vespers program 17 March 1946

The last item on the program reads: The following will be “At Home” to the students after the service: Professors Reid, Shewmake, Thies, Vowles, Watts, Wood, Shepard, Davidson.  Weekly at homes eventually shifted to faculty being divided into groups with each group assigned a specific Sunday of the month to play host in their homes. One group would always host on the first Sunday, another on the second, etc.

In the spring of 1966, the college’s social fraternities took tried an experiment with open houses.  They offered to host faculty once a month on a Sunday evening. Three fraternities opened each month and sent invited specific faculty. The Inter-Fraternity Council sent out a detailed memo:

IFC plan for fraternity open houses

IFC plan for fraternity open houses

The memo explained: During the second semester the social fraternities would like to reciprocate your hospitality by hold open houses once a month on the fraternity court in addition the regularly scheduled open houses after vespers on Sunday night. Three of the fraternity houses will be open at the same time, and you and your wives will be invited to attend at least once during the semester. All interested students will be invited as well.

IFC plan for fraternity open houses

IFC plan for fraternity open houses

 

Faculty were also informed that they could visit all three of the open houses on their Sunday evening but were asked “that you start at the house which sent you an invitation.”

First Open House notice printed in Davidson on 18 February 1966

First Open House notice printed in Davidson on 18 February 1966

The project worked for that semester but the following fall, vesper attendance became optional and open house attendance dropped considerably as well. A Special Committee on Religion addressed the issue by recommending that “for November, December, and January faculty members wishing to entertain students should personally extend the invitation to classes or other interest groups.” And further, Sundays were optional, “Rather than on any designated day the visits will be at times mutually convenient to the professor and the students he has invited.”  The committee offered yet another innovation–modest financial support of up to $25 funded through the Dean of Students.

A vestige of this tradition remains during commencements with academic departments hosting students and their families and, of course, the practice of faculty and staff hosting students in their homes throughout each semester.

Davidson & December 7, 1941

Like most Americans, Davidson students were aware of wars in East Asia and Europe but their involvement was limited.  On November 17, 1941, the YMCA announced that the annual Gift Fund project would be directed at refugees and war prisoners. Specifically, the gift fund would be purchasing Bibles to be sent to China, to prisoners in concentration camps in Germany, and to the US Navy. Using the theme of Let Use Share Our Faith, YMCA president Jim Owens stressed the need for “fighting hate and suffering with our strongest weapon, the Bible.”

19 November 1941 article following up on the Gift Fund project.

19 November 1941 article following up on the Gift Fund project.

December 4, 1941 article announcing acceptance of Davidson funded Bibles by the US Navy.

December 4, 1941 article announcing acceptance of Davidson funded Bibles by the US Navy.

College president John Cunningham and town mayor (and Latin professor) Ernest Beaty endorsed the gift fund project with Cunningham saying “I can scarcely think of any undertaking which holds the possibility of being more fruitful” and Beaty declaring “The best defense against evil in the present age is Truth as expressed through the Bible.”

Headlines for the December 11, 1941 Davidsonian –the first issue after the bombing of Pearl Harbor — focused on the latest Red and Black Masquers play, the annual Vesper service, and the cost of dance bands. The only reference to war came in one article about the ROTC honorary Scabbard and Blade.

December 11, 1941 article on the possible effect of war on a student military group.

December 11, 1941 article

Below the fold, this issue featured a photograph of the Davidson Bibles arriving at the USS North Carolina.

Front page war news after Peark Harbor still focused on Bibles.

Front page war news after Peark Harbor still focused on Bibles.

More news about the war appeared on page 2, with the text of President Cunningham’s chapel speech from December 5th:

Dr. Cunningham's speech

Dr. Cunningham’s speech

Cunningham urged restraint, noting that he was in seminary in 1917 at the outbreak of WWI, he told current students

I wish to express a word of caution today against panic and hysteria at this time. It is possible that some few students may feel that they are called to turn aside from their preparation and hasten into the military service of the country. My prediction is that there is plenty of time yet for that service. The word which I wish to stress, particularly to you today is that you are now engaged in a fundamental defense task. You must beware that you do not throw away an opportunity which has been denied approximately 97 per cent of young men– those who do not get to college. We must look further than winning a war. Winning the peace is going to be even more important.

A student editorial on the same page focused more on the American sense of humor in relation to Japanese culture.

Student editorial December 11, 1941

Student editorial December 11, 1941

The first effects of the war on campus appear in the January 29, 1942 issue with articles on changes in physical education, the introduction of summer classes, changes in ROTC staff and the first Red Cross canvas.  Other headlines show life as usual with mid-winters dances and Presbyterian student conferences.

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Back on page 3 of this issue, the college library gets credit for collecting books (other than Bibles) for the military.

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The first war bonds cartoons appeared in the February 5th issue. One on the editorial page.

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And one on page five next to an article on draft deferment policies:

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The Trustees began to address war-related issues later in February.

Headline from February 26, 1942 as the trustees approve war-related changes

Headline from February 26, 1942 as the trustees approve changes

Noticeably absent are any articles on international events. The student paper has rarely covered much in the way of national or international news and in the initial weeks after Pearl Harbor that focus didn’t change. The first reference to Davidson alumni in the military appeared in the February 26, 1942 issue.

First recognition of Davidson students entering the military

First recognition of Davidson students entering the military

A few weeks later, the Davidsonian reported on the civilian defense as the college began organizing air raid and fire watchers. Davidson was an unlikely target but we were prepared.

Time to start watching the skies

Time to start watching the skies

The war became more prevalent –even without wire stories from the front– when advertisers started using military themes.

First war-themed advertisement

First war-themed advertisement

Pumpkin Dessert Squares

Last week, Davidson freshmen ran the Cake Race – a Davidson tradition that dates back to 1930. According to an article in the November 13, 1930 issue of The Davidsonian, “It is intended that the first cake race held this year will set a precedent for future Freshman classes, and that in the future it will become an annual and looked forward to event in the yearly routine of the Freshman classes.”

The first cake race also saw the setting of "a new college cake race record," naturally.

The first cake race also saw the setting of “a new college cake race record,” naturally.

Track coach Heath “Pete” Whittle (Class of 1930) is responsible for beginning the Cake Race at Davidson when he began working in the athletics department in 1930. Whittle would stay in charge of the track team and serve as an Assistant Director of Athletics until 1971. The purpose was for Whittle to scout new running talent for the track team, and the cakes were the motivation for then mandatory race. Cakes baked by faculty spouses and townswomen were not the only prizes – students could also claim a number of items donated by local businesses.

Cakes are solicited from College employees and townspeople alike, as this 1990 memo shows.

Cakes are solicited from College employees and townspeople alike, as this 1990 memo shows. I heeded the helpful hint to use a disposable container for my cake.

Now the Cake Race is a voluntary event, with a fixed distance of 1.7 miles. The race wasn’t held in 1931-1933, 1941-1949, or 1972, as interest seemed to have waned, but upperclassmen insisted on the return of the race the following year and the 1.7 mile rite of passage has remained ever since. Sterling Martin (Class of 1963), a former winner of the Cake Race and organizer of the event from 1972 until the mid-1990s, said “The upperclassmen had a fit… they said they had to go through it, so they wanted to see everybody else run it. The next year we reinstated the race.” (Davidson Journal, Fall/Winter 1987) A few other colleges and universities have held cake races, and Georgia Tech’s also seems to have been tied to scouting new runners for the track and cross country teams, but it isn’t known whether Whittle was inspired by cake races at other institutions.

Sterling Martin selects a cake as his prize for winning the 1959 cake race.

Sterling Martin selects a cake as his prize for winning the 1959 cake race.

A group of freshmen women in the class of 1989 pose with their hard-earned cakes, August 1985.

A group of freshmen women in the class of 1989 pose with their hard-earned cakes, August 1985.

When Daisy Southerland married Pete Whittle in 1933, she too joined the Cake Race tradition. Daisy Whittle (1906-1991) hailed from Mobile, Alabama, and worked as the Director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, prior to moving to Davidson. Once established in town, Daisy ran a nursery school out of the Whittle family home, was active in the Davidson College Presbyterian Church, and made cakes for every class of freshmen until at least 1987. Although Pete Whittle passed away in 1975, Daisy continued attending the annual Cake Race and was active in the Davidson Senior Center.

Daisy Whittle presents a cake to a winning racer in 1963.

Daisy Whittle presents a cake to a winning racer in 1963.

As Daisy described in the Davidson Journal Fall/Winter 1987 issue, “I don’t think I’ve ever missed a race… I’ve made cakes every year, and my daughters helped when they were in high school. The cakes were usually chocolate, because that’s my favorite.” This year, to honor Daisy’s legacy and celebrate a new class of Davidson freshmen, I selected one of her recipes to make for the 2016 Cake Race and for this installment of our Recipes From the Archives blog series. Unfortunately, we don’t have any of her chocolate cake recipes in our collections, but Daisy did submit a recipe for Pumpkin Dessert Squares to the Davidson Senior Center’s 1985 printing of The Davidson Cookbook.

Daisy Whittle's Senior Center portrait, taken by Frank Bliss.

Daisy Whittle’s Senior Center portrait, taken by Frank Bliss circa 1980.

As the Davidson Journal‘s Fall/Winter 1987 issue states, “there are several competitions going on here – one involving the 140 freshmen running the 1.7-mile race, and another fiercer contest among the cake bakers waiting and watching to see whose cake will be picked first.” Daisy Whittle’s cakes have long been picked early in the selection process – racers are given place cards as they cross the finish line, and select cakes by that placement, alternating between men and women winners. Utensils are handed out, so cake eating can begin right away.

Daisy Whittle's recipe

The Pumpkin Dessert Squares I made for this year’s Cake Race.

I followed Daisy’s recipe to the letter, with the exception of cutting the cake into squares and serving with whipped cream. I assumed the whipped cream wouldn’t hold up in the August heat of North Carolina, as cakes are placed outside an hour or so before the race begins. Instead I sprinkled a little bit of powdered sugar on top of the cake, and constructed a festive, inedible banner topping in order to make the cake more appealing to the runners.

Some this year's cake spread - one photograph can't capture all of the cakes!

Some this year’s cake spread – one photograph can’t capture all of the cakes!

My version of Daisy's Pumpkin Dessert, with "Welcome Wildcats" banner topper!

My version of Daisy’s Pumpkin Dessert, with “Welcome Wildcats” banner topper!

As Alex Hunger (Class of 2009) said in a 2005 Charlotte Observer article on the Cake Race, “I’ve never had to work this hard for a cake… running for (cake) definitely makes it more worth eating.” I hope all of the members of the Class of 2020 enjoyed their cake-filled welcome to Davidson!

Orientations Past

The Class of 2020 is on campus. Another academic year is launched so what better time to look back at the beginnings of the classes of 1870, 1920, 1970, and 1995.

Class of 1870

In the fall of 1866, only 3 students enrolled as freshman raising the total enrollment to 27.  Unlike many classes, the class of 1870 grew over the next for years, ending with 13 seniors at graduation.  For those 3 and the 10 that joined them, there was no formal orientation. Students were expected to find their way to the college and to a faculty member who could help them find their dormitory room and classrooms.

Class of 1920

By the fall of 1916, the 129 entering new students were not left so adrift. The YMCA had begun regularly publishing a handbook full of useful information in 1904.

Title page for 1916-17 student handbook, now known as the Wildcat Handbook.

Title page for 1916-17 student handbook, not yet known as the Wildcat Handbook.

Today’s class might find the phrasing of the 1916 advice a little odd:

– To the man who is just entering upon his college course the transition from High or Preparatory School to College is filled with possibilities for either good or evil. The effect which a four year’s residence in a college is going to have upon a man is largely determined by the ideas which he absorbs, the standards which he sets, and the companions whom he selects within a short time after the opening of the session.

Description of honor code in handbook.

Description of honor code in handbook.

The handbook also provided a “Definition of Provoking Hazing”:

Provoking hazing is any willful act by any Freshman toward any upperclassman contrary to the existing traditions for the conduct of Freshmen on the campus, such as: jibing, making slighting, objectionable remarks, treating with undue disrespect upperclassmen, giving class yells, making Freshman numerals conspicuous, etc.

The reference to making “Freshmen numerals conspicuous” shows that memories of the Freshman Riot of 1903 had yet to fade. Perhaps because the class of 1920 was another large class – 129 new students to 48 seniors (394 students total).

Class of 1920 in 1917

Class of 1920 in 1917

The college administration took more of an interest in orientation that fall, launching a new initiative of mandatory “Freshman Lectures.”  The first speaker was college president William Martin who also had proper conduct and hazing on his mind. His talk was described (by an upperclassman Davidsonian reporter) as “a strong appeal to the Freshmen to realize that they are expected to conduct themselves in a manly way and abide by the traditions of the campus in regard to their attitude toward the older students.”

Faculty in 1916. President Martin is seated, second from the right.

Faculty in 1916. President Martin is seated, second from the right.

 

The 1916-17 class schedule could fit on one page in the Davidsonian.

The 1916-17 class schedule could fit on one page in the Davidsonian.

Class of 1970

Although the class of 1920 was a large class, the overall enrollment numbers by class were closer in the fall of 1966: 279 freshman out of 1008 students total.

The Wildcat Handbook was no longer published by the YMCA but continued to provide useful information with a few editorial comments and warnings added in:

Dear Freshman,  You will enter a “New Davidson” this fall. It had its “face lifted” this past year through the combined efforts of students and faculty., in some cases. With some of the new liberties that you will enjoy must come some new responsibility. The “drinking rule” was eliminated from the Student Body Regulations, but the faculty still have a rule against it. Unless you are willing to suffer the consequences, it is not advisable to drink on campus. If you are caught you have only yourself to blame.

The “gambling rule” was also repealed. This has led to a great deal of “reactionary” gambling. It has also led to some richer and poorer Davidson students. This is still against the ruling of the faculty. Do not get into these games so early in your college career. They can cause you more worry than they could possibly be worth and will take away from your study time tremendously.

Honor System in 1966

Honor System in 1966

Gone were the mandatory lectures, instead the college offered a 2 day orientation camp and the YMCA started a series of freshman “talks” in the residence halls.

16 September 1966 Davidsonian article praising the new class and raising questions about orientation length.

16 September 1966 Davidsonian article praising the new class and raising questions about orientation length.

Davidson faculty in 1966

Davidson faculty in 1966

Class of 1995

Between the fall of 1966 and 1991, total enrollment grew by 500 students. The class of 1995 made up 395 of the 1,500 students on campus with 218 men and 177 women.

Davidsonian article describing orientation 90s style.

Davidsonian article describing orientation 90s style.

The editors of the Wildcat Handbook took a lighter tone then their predecessors and promoted a balance of work and play.

Self-discipline is one phrase that you’ve probably heard many more times than you wish. At Davidson, it’s imperative that you possess this virtue. Using your time wisely is a skill you quickly need to acquire because a typical day here is nothing like your 8:30 to 3:30 high school schedule. . . . Of course, Davidson is not all study and no play. Recreation and just goofing off are essential to our physical and mental health. It is humanly impossible to study all day and night, and with so much going on at school, who would really want to, anyway? Naturally, you wouldn’t want to spend your study breaks down at Patterson Court every night, for these seem to last well past your intended time, and in many cases you never make it back to the library. But some time “on the court” or the Union does have a tendency to relieve tension.

The keys to surviving your freshman year are self-discipline and time-management. But aside from that, enjoy! Study, work hard and spend  your time wisely, but remember, to do all this, you’ve got to mix in some fun, too.

By time class of 1995 graduated, the college had expanded orientation to include special events for parents and even more events for students.

Dogs of Davidson

In some parts of the world, the dog star Sirius shows up in the night sky about this time leading to the phrase Dog Days of Summer. This seems an appropriate time to highlight campus pups.

Although the college mascot is a wildcat, dogs have had a fair representation on campus over the years.  The earliest image comes from the class of 1889.

From the John Hunter Grey photograph collection. The image came with identification for all the students, but not the dog.

From the John Hunter Grey photograph collection. The image came with identification for all the students, but not the dog.

The 1916 Quips and Cranks included a little canine humor in its pages.

1916 Quips and Cranks - students humor, made-up professor.

1916 Quips and Cranks – joke from yearbook’s Campus Calendar section. Note: the professor is a made-up name.

During the WWI years, when students found themselves in uniform, they were adopted by at least one dog.

Before ROTC, there was the Student Army Training Corps program. Perhaps these students are resting after a day for drills?

Before ROTC, there was the Student Army Training Corps program. Perhaps these students & pup are resting after drills?

Spaniels appear to have been a popular choice into the 1940s – this pup joined students at a music summer camp.

Musical pup circa 1943

Musical pup circa 1943

During the 1950s, Mike Meyers ’53, of Bill Edward‘s fame, chronicled the life and times of several Davidson dogs.

26 November 1951 Davidsonian story

26 November 1951 Davidsonian story

In February 1952, students created a snow sculpture honoring a dog.

In February 1952, students created a snow sculpture honoring a dog.

Another Mike Meyers doggie exclusive

Another Mike Meyers doggie exclusive from March 1952

Full article on George.

Outdoing the 1916 Quips and Cranks, the 1974 yearbook featured a full piece on Davidson’s Dog Life.

1974 defense of campus dogs.

1974 defense of campus dogs.

One of the dogs of 1974

One of the dogs of 1974

1976 yearbook photo

1976 yearbook photo

Students at Davidson from 1980 to 1983 documented dogs waiting by the Post Office, lounging around, and providing comfort to students.

Cooling off in 1980

Cooling off in 1980

1981 yearbook photo of playful pups

1981 yearbook photo of playful pups

1981 yearbook doggie ode

1981 yearbook doggie ode

On duty at PO crosswalk

On duty at PO crosswalk

Puppy love

Puppy love (1981)

1982 yearbook dog page

1982 yearbook dog page

Pete in 1982

Pete in 1982

Dog days in 1983

Dog days in 1983

We don’t have a date for this commencement and we don’t think the dog got a diploma.

Just waiting to retrieve tossed hats.

Just waiting to retrieve tossed hats.

Students haven’t been the only dog-loving wildcats on campus. Grier Martin, Davidson president, 1958-1968, and his wife Louise entertained students with their talented pet.

Presidential pup Jezebel going through her paces.

Presidential pup Jezebel going through her paces.

Visiting Philosophy professor Gordon Michalson pampered his pet.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

And College Communications writer extraordinaire John Syme’s canine friends are campus legends.

John Syme and Oscar enjoy front campus in 2002

John Syme and Oscar enjoy front campus in 2002

Leisure

With the campus moving into summer mode, the idea –if not the reality–of leisure beckons.  The reality is that much of campus stays busy behind the scenes and that leisure has been an important topic for the archives all spring.

Once again, Professor Shireen Campbell found a creative way to introduce first-year writing students to the joys and perplexities of archival research.  Her WRI 101 class became contributors to the Davidson Encyclopedia through the topic of Leisure and Play. The class explored the theme in many ways looking at “who has been given or had the right to leisure and play as well as how these concepts are defined or constrained by age, class, race, and/or gender.” The course description continues:

Readings will range from Plato and Aristotle to Thorstein Veblen and scenes from Parks and Recreation.  Major projects will consider commercial representations of leisure, visions for and structures of local parks, analysis of student leisure at the college in the early 20th century, and non-profit attempts to “organize” leisure.

For the analysis of student leisure at Davidson, we picked a small range of topics and let the students delve into exploring and defining specific activities. They focused on the years between the 1860s and 1940s. Starting with sports, social events, religious life and clubs as the general topics, the final encyclopedia entries ended up being Arts and Communication Clubs, Dating at Davidson, Intramural Baseball, and the YMCA.

Within these entries, the class discovered the first student singers and the role that ROTC (decidedly not a leisure activity) played in developing more extracurricular activities such as concert and pep bands.

Early ROTC band - precursor to concert and football band

Early ROTC band – precursor to concert and football band

In an “only at Davidson” twist, one member of this group came across a continuous novel titled Caldwell Pharr Johnston, only then to discover that the title used the name of a real Davidson student, class of 1925 who was a grandfather of another member of the group.

Caldwell Pharr Johnston, class of 1925 and grandfather to a member of the class of 1919

Caldwell Pharr Johnston, class of 1925 and grandfather to a member of the class of 1919

The student working on early visual arts needed to get creative since artists were slow to organize -but quick to contribute sketches to yearbooks and newspapers. On the other hand, the religion group found so much material in the archives YMCA records that they focused on all the roles that group played on campus from orientation to scout troops to religious life and even finding ways to get young women on campus.

The Y's role on campus started with orientation and the first student handbooks.

The Y’s involvment with students started with orientation and the first student handbooks.

The sports group discovered that intramurals go way back– even before flickerball– and that they helped inspire a riot.  To find out more check out the latest entries and share in our thanks to a great professor and our newly minted researchers.

 

 

 

 

Spring Recess to Spring Break

It’s Spring Break week at Davidson and the campus is not surprisingly mostly empty of students.  Like other Davidson traditions, this one has morphed over the years.  In 1920s through the 1950s, Spring Recess was usually Thursday to Wednesdays chopping up the weeks and allowing for only one weekend.  In1926, the timing of the break allowed it to merge into Easter and a few more days away from campus.

February 4, 1926 Davidsonian article on spring holidays

February 4, 1926 Davidsonian article on spring holidays

Where did students go?

 April 10, 1935 Davidsonian article on student's choices for spring break.


April 10, 1935 Davidsonian article on student’s choices for spring break.

In 1935, the Davidsonian reported that “Throwing down their books at the stroke of the gong on Thursday at 12:30, nearly 600 students  began their migration.  Transportation of every conceivable variety (airplanes and roller skates excepted) was pressed into use.”  Most student “journeyed homeward”  which included trips to Boston and Miami. One student, Ab Price set a new hitch hiking record getting from Davidson to Philadelphia in 22 hours.

Spring Recess was a mixed blessing in 1941 — Seniors got access to cars but everyone got their grades.

March 27, 1941 announcing new car rule

March 27, 1941 announcing new car rules

March 27, 1941 announcing grade notices

March 27, 1941 announcing grade notices

The 1960s brought longer breaks. The faculty voted to make the 1962-63 spring break 8 days and allowed for it to include 2 weekends.  This decision moving commencement back a week – into June.

An editorial in 1966 reflected on the end of break and the return to campus noting that although the break allows for plenty of time to catch up on work, it also “opened the season of procrastination.”  The philosophic editor rambled on about the difficult choices of Florida or Nassau, guilt induced by not studying enough and whether or not a 3 week vacation would allow for both fun and work.

April 8, 1966 editorial

April 8, 1966 editorial

By 1977, fewer students were heading home and more students were heading to beaches or ski slopes.

Planning ahead, the January 28, 1977 issue of the Davidsonian gave space to spring break suggestions.

Planning ahead, the January 28, 1977 issue of the Davidsonian gave space to spring break suggestions.

The suggestions included Daytona Beach which offered sun, sand, surf and Northern girls (who apparently are more willing to buy drinks for young men); Vermont which offered more snow that year than Colorado; Philadelphia for walking tours and food; and the Outer Banks for camping and warm welcomes from the locals.

A spring break tour for the baseball team brought something different:

A 9 game tour gave the baseball team a chance to truly warm up for the season.

A 9 game tour gave the baseball team a chance to truly warm up for the season.

 

The focus in 1978 was a little more practical as the college offered chances to work in public relations, community development, environmental projects and service projects.

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1978 Spring break learning and service options

By 1988, students were doing more serious travel and service projects as documented by the student paper.

March 11, 1988 - students traveling to Russia

March 11, 1988 – students traveling to Russia

and doing service work

and doing service work

and going on tour with a choir.

and going on tour with a choir.

Where did you spend your breaks?

Senior-Faculty Day

This week students in a Writing 101 class are getting introduced to researching in the archives.  They will be creating new entries in the Davidson Encyclopedia on topics related to student leisure.  While the in-class exercise centered around ways students celebrated holidays, some other traditions popped up as ones we might want to revive.

One of these is Senior-Faculty Day.  Granted there were only 153 members of the senior class and 47 faculty when the first day was held in April 20, 1939, which might have made it a little easier to organize. According the Davidsonian story of April 19th, the impetus for such day came from a desire on both sides “to come to a more complete understanding of the other’s problems whereby more whole-hearted co-operation may be given between the two groups.”

Headline from 19 April 1939 article announcing first Senior-Faculty Day.

Headline from 19 April 1939 article announcing first Senior-Faculty Day.

Apparently this meeting of the minds was to happen primarily through athletic contests and barbecue. Students on the planning committee included Shaw Smith (future director of the college union), Ovid Bell, and Oscar Armstrong.  Although, the faculty opted to include coaches on their team, the class of 1939 won three out of four contests.  The faculty managed to win at golf, while the seniors swept tennis, bowling and softball.

Despite the 1940’s contest headline “Seniors Meet Faculty Foes in Athletics,” goodwill prevailed and a tradition was launched.  An editorial in the April 1,  1942 (not a humor issue) encouraging students to get to know faculty noted:

If after careful examination of the individual college records of each of the faculty members, the students are not convinced that they are ‘regular fellows,’ their showing at the Varsity-Faculty basketball game, on Senior-Faculty Day, and in the Stunt Night program should at least arouse curiosity to determine by personal contact outside the classroom the true character of the instructing staff.

Faculty and seniors on the ball field

Faculty and seniors on the ball field

The games continued until 1963 with a break during the World War II years. The return of the Senior-Faculty Day in 1946 included not only the athletic contests (now tennis, volleyball, softball, golf and horseshoes), but the picnic, a faculty skit, and a Senior-Faculty smoker (not a traditional we are likely to revive -even if they were according the Davidsonian “very, very interesting.”)

By the early 1950s, student prowess had given way to the faculty’s honed skills. In 1954, Coach Pete Whittle, speaking for the faculty, expressed the wish that “the seniors try make it interesting for us this time.”  The Davidsonian suggested that “Somehow –perhaps mindful of the approach of diploma time– the senior classes of the past two years have allowed the old-timers to claim the win.

The 1954 games were spread out over more days included golf on Monday, tennis on Wednesday, followed by volleyball and softball (also on Wednesday). The post-game meal was held at Erwin Lodge.   Other years, the teams gathered at Hobart Park for hot dogs and one at least one occasion when the food preparation short, everyone convened at a local restaurant.

Roasting hot dogs after a day of play

Roasting hot dogs after a day of play

Last report on a Senior-Faculty Day - May 1963

Last report on a Senior-Faculty Day – May 1963

The games did not survive the changes of the 1960s and perhaps the senior-faculty ratio no longer works –but take a moment and just imagine today’s seniors pitching a softball today’s faculty