Justice, Equality, Community (JEC) Student and Alumni Advisory Council

The Justice, Equality, Community (JEC) grant is a three year, campus-wide initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support increased interdisciplinary engagement with issues of race, gender, religion, and social justice within the humanities at Davidson College.

The grant documents state: “A more publicly available and promoted archives will inspire transdisciplinary coursework in the humanities through the use of archival materials, promote avenues for increased original student research in the humanities, and enable Davidson to develop reciprocal relationships with community partners—all in support of increased dialogue around issues of justice, equality, and community in the curriculum and in the community.”

To accomplish these goals, the archival component of this initiative has four main tasks:

· Identify and digitize JEC collections.

· Integrate JEC materials into at least 5 new courses.

· Expand archival collections related to JEC, particularly the oral history collections.

· Lead public programming about JEC materials, both on campus and in the larger community.

Jethro Rumple reminiscing about the college circa 1840

This handwritten reminiscence of life at Davidson College was written in the 1840s by an alumnus, Reverend Jethro Rumple. The document contains a description of the College President’s “body servant,” Esom. This item was digitized with JEC grant funds and can be found on DigitalNC.org.

In order to more effectively engage our audiences and build a stronger collection, we selected a thematic focus for each year. For the academic year 2017 – 2018, we focused on 19th century Davidson. Working with partners like DigitalNC and H.F. Group, we identified and digitized thousands of items related to this theme. These materials are available through Davidson College’s research guides – a centralized platform familiar to our students and faculty, while also being accessible to the general public.

We have built on these efforts throughout the 2018 – 2019 academic year by highlighting and expanding our records related to alumni and student activism through support for course-based oral history projects, the on-going digitization of our existing oral history collections, and more targeted student outreach. 

Some of these materials have already been incorporated into a variety of classes, including Introduction to Africana Studies (AFR 101), Environmental History (ENV 256), Slavery and Africa (HIS 366), Native Women (HIS 243), WRI 101, the Humanities Program (HUM 103, 104), US Latinx History (HIS 259), Women and Slavery in the Black Atlantic (AFR 329), and Origins of the American South (HIS 242).

Green Books, Contempo magazine, For 2 Cents Plain, and MLK publications arranged on a table for a Humanities course.

Special collections material pulled for the Fall 2018 Humanities course.

In many of these classes, as well as others, students often express concern that “Davidson is always talking about where we’re going, but rarely talks about where we’ve been.” Students wonder about how their legacy will be represented—and if it will be represented.

Understanding we were uniquely positioned to address this concern, we formed the JEC Student and Alumni Advisory Council—if we were targeting students, we wanted to empower students as full archival partners to recognize their labor for us, as well as in the community.

The JEC Advisory Council, composed of Davidson College students and recent alumni and led by the JEC Project Archivist, was established in the Fall 2018 semester to document and publicize the ways in which students have engaged with and responded to historical and contemporary manifestations of injustice and inequality in Davidson and the surrounding area.

Image of students, townsfolk, and professors interacting with archival materials in the fishbowl as part of the Davidson Disorientation Tour in 2018.
Attendees interacting with archival materials during the debriefing session for the Davidson Disorientation Tour co-led by one of our council members, H.D. (April 2018).

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

Supported by the archival portion of the JEC Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, we are working to synthesize information from academic, administrative, and social spheres for a better understanding of campus culture and greater acknowledgment of student work. The ultimate goal of this project is to address gaps between student needs and institutional responses, empower students to better leverage archival resources, and to promote dialogue around increased accountability for supporting student-led projects. 

To accomplish this, we will identify, collect, and digitize the data, records, and oral histories of student organizations and their community partners, both through the acquisition of existing documentation and the recording of information that does not exist in a formal or textual source; following this, we will organize programming according to our findings in order to facilitate meaningful conversations and tangible impacts. 

We are confident that, in addition to meeting our primary goals, this project will also promote a better understanding of the archives as a resource and increase transparency around the processes and accessibility of college documentation, thus creating a foundation for future projects and coalitions.

MEMBERSHIP

Kaitlin Barkley, ’21

Yashita Kandhari, ’20

H.D. Mellin, ’20

Carlos Miranda Pereya, ’18

Arianna Montero-Colbert, ’19

Jonathan Shepard-Smith, ’18

The statement of purpose was written and approved by the inaugural members of the JEC Student and Alumni Advisory Council in March 2019. The group has met on a monthly basis since January 2019. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Jessica Cottle at jecottle@davidson.edu.

Guest Blogger: Dahlia Krutkovich, “Petition for Jewish Studies at Davidson College”

Hey everyone,

A group of students has been organizing to create an interdisciplinary Jewish Studies program at Davidson. This comes as part of a broader response to the events of last semester (the Pittsburgh shooting, “Hitler did nothing wrong,” and the neo-Nazis on campus).

This wouldn’t be possible without the work of students who came before us. We acknowledge and admire those who fought for Africana and GSS at Davidson and those continuing to advocate for Asian-American Studies, Indigenous Studies, and other initiatives that will ultimately make Davidson a place more people can call their own.

We hope that you’ll sign on, but we also want to answer your questions in person. Members of the working group will be at the tables by the fireplace in the Union this Monday to Friday from 11 to 3. This petition and its signatories will serve as proof that the Davidson community sees this as an urgent need. Talk to your friends, professors, alum friends and parents, etc. Thank you for your support.

Petition for Jewish Studies at Davidson College

1/27/19

To the Davidson College community:

The unmasking of Davidson students with neo-Nazi affiliation in November 2018 has left many students to wonder about Davidson’s commitment to its curricular and social values. We believe the creation of a Jewish Studies program at Davidson is crucial to the College’s wellbeing.

This is not the first time the College’s commitment to religious inclusion and academic integrity has been called into question. Less than 50 years ago, Davidson refused to hire a Jewish professor because he denounced a tenure policy that required professors to promote Christianity on campus (1). In response to student outrage and national attention, the first Jewish professor in Davidson history was hired two years later, in 1979 (2).

The Anti-Defamation League reports an 89% increase in anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses between 2016 and 2017 (3). Over the same period of time, FBI Hate Crime Statistics Report show a 37% increase in anti-Semitic incidents nationwide (4).

Just a few months ago, we confronted anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism on our own campus. Though our push for Jewish Studies is a response to homegrown white supremacy, it is also informed by conversations Jewish students had following the exposure of the radicalized students’ twitter feeds. Suddenly, Jewish students were burdened with explaining everything from the differences between Reform and Hasidic Judaism to the concept of conditional whiteness, while also processing neo-Nazism so close to home. Even though non-Jewish students were willing and eager to learn about Jewish identities, it is unacceptable that these conversations were catalyzed only by tweets including “gas the kikes” and “I don’t actually give a ____ about Jews getting shot up” (5).

Although Davidson already offers some Jewish Studies courses, two or three classes a semester is not enough; a more complete curricular program in Jewish Studies would humanize and demystify Jewish culture, history, and identity. The student authors of this petition are advocating an interdisciplinary Jewish Studies program, which would span at least three disciplines and include at least one tenure-track position devoted to the study of Jewishness, be it through Religious Studies, History, Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and/or Literary Studies. We envision Jewish Studies courses as dynamic, enriching spaces where students can more deeply engage with their academic pursuits.

Of the twenty institutions Davidson cites as its peers, nine have interdisciplinary or formal Jewish Studies departments, while eight others have access to programs or offer a significant number of courses devoted to a more expansive study of Jewish identity (6). If Davidson wants to maintain its status as a leader among other top colleges and continue to expand beyond its origins as a regional institution, adding a Jewish Studies program must become an immediate priority.

As an institution of higher learning that claims to serve as a “place where those who live, work, and study see differences as an opportunity to learn about themselves,” we have a responsibility to learn from our differences, engage with complicated topics, and combat ignorance with education (7). We hope the foundation of an interdisciplinary Jewish Studies program will move Davidson towards a greater, more inclusive understanding of Jewishness. Community support is vital to our success, so we implore those of you invested in the future of Davidson to show solidarity.

To demonstrate your support, sign your name below.

Sincerely,

The Student Working Group for Jewish Studies

References:

1. http://library.davidson.edu/archives/davidsonian/PDFs/19770422.pdf
2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1977/04/25/christian-nc-college-rebu
ffs-jew/bff9b129-00d3-499e-8978-5da6a9b3cfb0/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9ac
82f27a402; http://davidsonjournal.davidson.edu/2010/03/another-news-story/
3. https://www.adl.org/media/11174/download
4. https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2016/tables/table-1;
https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2017/topic-pages/tables/table-1.xls
5. https://twitter.com/WorkersCarolina/status/1060331304741453824?s=20
6. https://www.davidson.edu/offices/institutional-research/peer-institutions
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/1/d/1mnuIWvvhtnU_A4ubsWBnjcclX-H2
KjWRak37valaPFc/edit?usp=sharing
7. https://www.davidson.edu/admission-and-financial-aid/diversity

Guest Bloggers: Abby Fry, Mia Hodges, Hartlee Johnston & Erin Major, “Digging in the Davidson Archives: A Look at HIV and AIDS at Davidson”

Throughout this semester, we have been involved in an independent study class under the guidance of Dr. Wessner investigating the biological and social impacts of HIV and AIDS. We each entered this class with our own particular interests and experiences in this realm – Mia worked at the Mwandi Mission Hospital, Abby conducted research in Ghana on reproductive healthcare, Hartlee worked at an LGBTQ+ health nonprofit, and Erin worked at a harm reduction organization and needle exchange program. We were each able to bring our individual experiences to deepen our group’s discussion of the various scientific papers and books we read and movies we watched.

As the semester went on and we began to discuss what we wanted our final project for this class to look like, the topic of HIV on Davidson’s campus emerged. Though we each had knowledge of the AIDS Crisis both in the United States and abroad, none of us had ever heard much about the ways in which our campus was impacted by these events. We decided to expand the existing programming for World AIDS Day to encourage students to better understand the history of this infection both broadly and on Davidson’s campus, as well as to see that HIV is still an important and relevant issue. Our goal was to tie in several parts of campus for a series of exhibits and events that would be visible to our entire Davidson community.

Through the extensive and much appreciated help of the Archives and Special Collections staff, we were able to find pictures of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in the Johnston Gym (now the Union) and records of the group that brought the Quilt here in 1994, as well as photos from their trip to Washington D.C. to be a part of the showing of the Quilt on the National Mall. We explored how the LGBTQIA+ community has grown on campus and found the documentation of the formation of different groups such as F.L.A.G. (Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Q&A (Queers and Allies), and YANASH (You are Not a Stranger Here). Some of our favorite things to explore were the Davidsonian articles that documented the slow progression of the discussion surrounding HIV and AIDS on this campus juxtaposed next to articles about the regular goings-on of the school.

Glass exhibit cases filled with artifacts and articles about AIDS at Davidson

World AIDS Day exhibition

 

Additionally, we were shown Quilt squares made by Scotty Nichols, the former director of RLO, who made these pieces to honor Davidson students and staff who had passed away due to AIDS. To read about these students, see their pictures, and hear the ways in which Scotty honored them, was a poignant reminder that Davidson was not immune to the effects of the AIDS Crisis.

Many of these artifacts from the archives are currently on display in the Library, but many more will be shown during Common Hour (11am-noon) on Tuesday, November 27th and Thursday, November 29th in the Library Fishbowl. In addition, the documentary “The Last One” about the making of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be screened, and four blocks of the Quilt will be on display for that whole week (Nov. 26th – Dec. 2nd) in the Union Atrium featuring the squares of four Davidson students. On Friday, November 30th at 4:30pm, the Visual AIDS presentation will be held the Wall Atrium. Please join us for any and all of these events, as well as taking a look at the display cases in the library.

Poster listing World AIDS Day events

World AIDS Day Events 2018

We would also like to extend a sincere thank you to everyone in the library and across campus who have provided their expertise, time, and materials to this project!

Guest Blogger: Andrew Rippeon, Ph.D. Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing, “More Frankenstein”

Broadside with the silhouette of a human with cross hatches of green surrounded by quotes regarding monsters and Frankenstein

Broadside Celebrating the Bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Halloween 2018

It’s been 200 years since the publication of Mary Shelley’s story of a creature created in a laboratory.  In the cinematic adaptations, the creature is stitched together, composed of body parts taken from corpses and medical specimens (and a famously “abnormal” brain).  Given this collage-like nature of Frankenstein’s creation, it seemed fitting to mark both the bicentennial of Shelley’s publication and Halloween 2018 with an “exquisite corpse”-style letterpress print.  In the Surrealist technique of the exquisite corpse, multiple authors or artists contribute short fragments to a single composition, with the result being a collaboratively composed final work that often demonstrates striking, unexpected juxtapositions.    

In our practice of the exquisite corpse, volunteers from Professor Sample’s WRI-101 course (“Monsters”!) visited the new and developing Letterpress Lab in the Wall Center for a brief overview of typesetting and letterpress printing.  After an introduction to the anatomy of moveable type (including the face, foot, belly, shoulder, and beard of the individual pieces of type, known as “sorts”), and the basics of typesetting (upside-down, from left to right), students selected typefaces and then set short quotations they’d brought with them, drawn from their readings in all things monsterish.  Some had chosen extracts from novels, while others had more theoretical excerpts.  When typesetting was complete, the students’ individual quotations were then gathered together onto one of two mid-century Vandercook proof presses, and locked into place in the bed of the press.   

The following day, students returned to print their type on large-format sheets previously printed with an appropriate background: a monsterish, vaguely human silhouette emerging from a visually noisy background.  Perhaps appropriate to the occasion (a celebration of what is sometimes called the first work of science fiction), these background sheets were produced on the letterpress but by means of a decidedly twenty-first century technique known as “pressure printing,” and in this specific case enabled by the technology of the laser-cutter in the college makerspace Studio M.  Pressure printing is a little bit like stenciling, but rather than applying pigment onto a sheet through a stencil, the stencil itself is placed behind the sheet, and the pair are run through the letterpress.  Ink transfers unevenly from the press to the print—a “mistake” in traditional letterpress practices!—according to the presence or absence of the material behind the printed sheet.  In this case, a negative and then a positive stencil were used to create, respectively, the background field (silver) with a silhouette removed, and the foreground figure (variably inked) with the background removed.  Hand inking of the figure produced a stitch-like effect, which continued the monsterish and collage-oriented approach to the print.  In the short edition (limited to 40), no two prints are the same.       

 

Guest Blogger: Emily Privott “Davidson College Football: Continuing the Tradition”

This past weekend, Davidson College football kicked off its 2018 season with a 34-13 home win over Brevard College. Led by new head coach Scott Abell, the Wildcats were a dominant force on the field, scoring a total of 4 touchdowns in the first half of the game. To celebrate the Cats’ win, here are some odds and ends from football history at Davidson.

Recently, Archives and Special Collections received a donation from an alumna of athletic media guides, ranging from the 1940s to the early 2000s. We are beyond thrilled to add these to our collection! Here are some program covers that caught our eye:

Two men, one in a tweed jacket carrying books, the other in a football uniform holding a football. A gold trophy in the center of the image, with a football player throwing a football. Davidson vs. Catawba. Richardson Field

1954 Football program, Davidson vs. Catawba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A football player stick figure made out of various colored striped ties. Davidson vs. Carson-Newman. Richardson Field. October 18,1958

1958 Football program, Davidson vs. Carson-Newman

 

A boy wearing a football helmet playing a violin. Davidson vs. Lehigh. Richardson Field. November 9, 1953.

1963 Football program, Davidson vs. Lehigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hopefully, Davidson’s win over Brevard is a sign of good things to come! Let’s take a look back at one of the greatest seasons in Davidson football history! Led by one-season coach Joe Susan, the Wildcats experienced its first and only undefeated season in school history with a 10-0 record. Here are some memories from this perfect season:

A grey t-shirt with black and red text, reading "Davidson Football 2000". Perfect season. Red and black signatures of Senior football players.

T-shirt that reads “Davidson Football 2000”; Signed by the Seniors

 

Black and white image of 23 football players in uniform. 2000 Davidson football Seniors.

2000 Football, Seniors

 

2000 Football Senior Squad
Back row (l-r): Andy Blanton, Mark Rachal, Tee Bahnson, Adam Stockstill, Blake McNaughton
Third row: Bryan Fish, Ryan Crawford, Corey Crawford, Shaun Tyrance, Jerry Saunders
Second row: Marcus McFadden, Andre Carelock, Bo Henderson, Brian Fork, Matt Berry, Brian Bokor
Front row: Dave Parker, Matt Hurt, Dave Rosenberg, Jon DeBord, Ryan Hutto, Freeman Belser, Kevin Strange

For more information about the history of Davidson College football, please visit http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/football.

If you are interested in seeing any of these artifacts in-person, please check out a recently created display housed at the entrance of E.H. Little Library.

 

Guest Blogger: Hunter Murphy, “Take Me Out To The Cat’s Park”

My name is Hunter Murphy and I am from Cincinnati, OH. I am approaching my junior year at Davidson and I am majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Chinese Studies. I am ecstatic about working with Archives this summer as the JEC Archival Assistant and I cannot wait to see what history lies uncovered in the files at the Archives.

I was helping moving some files to south storage the other day when we came across a box a old sports equipment where we found these baseballs dating back to as early as 1921. I was especially interested in the two older looking balls that said, “Dav-5 Duke-0” and, “The Last One”. I did some research an although I didn’t find anything on the baseball that said, “Dav-5 Duke-0” I did find that the baseball saying, “The Last One” was the game ball from the final game of the 1927 season between Davidson and Furman, Davidson winning 16-5. All of the players signed the baseball commemorating the 1927 season.

1927 baseball from the game between Davidson and Furman with the palyers names on it and, "Last Baseball of My Last Game for Davidson" and the score inscribed, "Davidson 16 Furman 5"

“The Last One” Baseball from the last game of the 1927 season with the names of the players and the score written on it.

A baseball with "To Davidson - 100 Great Years of Baseball" and signatures of past players on it.

A baseball with “To Davidson – 100 Great Years of Baseball” and signatures of past players on it.

Baseball from a game against Duke, "Dav-5 Duke-0" written on it

Baseball from a game against Duke, “Dav-5 Duke-0” written on it.

 

It is crazy to think that the sports being played now started over a hundred years ago and how much the game of baseball has evolved over the years. The baseball saying, “To Davidson-100 Great Years of Baseball” is right. It shows how far baseball at Davidson has come, which is why I am going to give a little bit of history on Davidson baseball.

The first mention of baseball was back in 1870 when two clubs (the Mecklenburgs and the Red Jackets) were in existence. Every Saturday morning the members were excused form the literary society meetings t

Baseball from 1921 with, "Davidson Baseball 1921" written on it.

Baseball from 1921 with, “Davidson Baseball 1921” written on it.

o take part in a game. However, they were not allowed to play other schools. It was not until 1902 that intercollegiate baseball was founded at Davidson and was then allowed to play other collegiate teams. Since then they joine1892 baseball teamd the Southern Conference from 1947-1988, left the Southern conference to become independent from 1989-1991, back to the Southern Conference from 1992-2014, and finally joined the Atlantic-10 in 2015 where they currently play their games. They’ve sent multiple individuals to MLB organizations, most recently Will Robertson, drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, and Durin O’Linger, signed a free agent contract with the Box Red Sox organization. Davidson made its way to its first A-10 Conference Championship just a year after joining in 2016 but fell short. The year after Davidson rallied back and won the 2017 A-10 Conference Championship and went on

Davidson baseball game, image of the Davidson catcher diving to tag out a U.N.C. Chapel Hill runner at home plate.

Davidson baseball game, image of the Davidson catcher diving to tag out a U.N.C. Chapel Hill runner at home plate.

to beat U.N.C. Chapel Hill to win the Regional Championship sending them to the first ever Super-Regionals in college history. Davidson  Back in 1990

Davidson traveled to play the Miami Hurricanes, the number one team in the nation, and won 3-2! Then again in 1994 Davidson beat Georgia Tech, the number 1 team in the nation, and won 6-4. Davidson went from not being able to play other college team to winning a Conference Championship and going to the Super-Regionals. Davidson baseball has come so far, I cannot wait to see what the future holds in store for the Cats.

#CATSAREWILD

Guest Blogger: Emelyn Schaeffer, “The Years Flew By in Colors”*

My name is Emelyn Schaeffer and I am from Atlanta, GA. I am approaching my sophomore year at Davidson and I am thinking about double majoring in English and Gender and Sexuality Studies. I am excited about working in Archives and Special Collections this summer, learning more about how the library operates, and discovering more about Davidson’s past.

This weekend is Alumni Reunion Weekend for Davidson and we are collecting some publications written by members of the classes attending to showcase during Saturday’s Avant Garde lunch. It is the class of 1963’s 55th reunion and they are being honored with an induction into the Avant Garde. With this in mind, we took a peek into what life was like on Davidson’s campus in 1963.

The spring issue of Scripts ’n Pranks – a literary and satirical magazine published for students to showcase their classmates’ work – in the 1962-1963 school year is called the “Mud-Luscious, Puddle Wonderful Issue” and features an Alice in Wonderland inspired cover.

Cover of Scripts 'n Pranks showing Alice in Wonderland characters gazing at Alice in a swimming hole filled with alcoholCover of Scripts ‘n Pranks April, 1963

One of the editors commented on a collection of pictures of “The Young Turks.” The Book Review speaks of W. Wolfe’s Youth Movements as a satirical novel, but declares, “All true satire bears a moral viewpoint, since otherwise the satirist would have no enduring purpose, but Wolfe lets his outrage ruin his art.”

Scripts 'n Pranks black and white advertisement, showing the same individual on every seat of a planeScripts ‘n Pranks Advertisement

The class of 1963 was the first one for which Inklings was published, a collection of writing from the class during its freshman year. It includes a mix of genres, from fiction to articles on current events. Back-to-back articles include “How Great Thou Art” and “Man in the Age of the Hydrogen Bomb,” which could point to some mixed feeling on the future of the world.

Cover of Inklings, 1963, Writings by Freshmen

Cover of Inklings, 1963

The annual – Quips and Cranks – of 1963 discusses heritage and college as a game that must be learned in order to succeed:

Cover of Quips and Cranks Cover 1963, green cover with the title written forward and backwards

Quips and Cranks Cover 1963

“When the student is apart from the crowd, he allows himself to think, talk or joke about Davidson. It is then that he questions his purpose in life, wonders what his career should be, and estimates what he has learned and accomplished. In that moment, alone, he leaves the game, looks at it and himself, and is shamefully conscious that he has grossly underestimated the goals he must attain in order to be a well educated man. In these moments, alone, the student has realized his failure and has made himself more aware of the ideals he must fulfill. He will once again attempt, no matter how fruitlessly, to succeed.”

In the senior section, the editors added:

“After graduation, the senior finds time to evaluate his college achievements and to look at his future. He realizes that he has had little time during the past year to play the game of college and wonders whether the game taught him anything about himself or was even adequate preparation for this ending and beginning. It does not seem as important as he first thought, and, perhaps, if he had not played, it would not have made any difference. But, as he rationalizes, can a student accomplish anything without the game?”

While I, as a Davidson student, laugh a little at these passages because of how they echo some of my own thoughts as I look towards my future, I hope the alumni of this class now look back on their time at Davidson with a heart full of pride and love for a place that properly prepared them for all they thought to attempt and succeed in doing. Many things may have changed on this campus and in this world in the last 55 years, but the traditions we share – the Freshman Cake Race, the Honor Code, outlets of creativity, hard work, and love of this school – will forever connect alumni and students.

*lyrics from Dan Hill’s “Growing Up”

Guest Blogger: Emily Privott, “150 Years in the Making: Davidson College’s Mace”

I am a senior Religious Studies major at Davidson College. I am interested in the historical and social components of religious traditions, particularly Christianity, and how religious faith influences one’s worldview.  This summer, I have the pleasure of being a Research Assistant for Archives & Special Collections. I am excited about this opportunity to contribute to “Around the D”!

Last weekend, Davidson College held its 181st Commencement. Featured prominently on the commencement stage, on the right of the speaker, is the Davidson College Mace.

Commencement 2018 showing mace on its stand on the dais with President Quillen

Commencement 2018

Hand-carved by Mr. Jack Ramseur ’31, the Davidson College Mace was presented to the College on January 29, 1988, in honor of the College’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.

Full length Mace in its protective case

Mace in its protective case for archival storage

In medieval times, maces were traditionally weapons of war. Carried by knights or royal bodyguards, maces were used to protect royalty during processions. By the 14th century, maces assumed more ceremonial functions. The ceremonial mace, usually about four feet in length, survives today as a symbol of authority. Carried by the Chief Marshal in the commencement procession, the Davidson College Mace ceremonially marks the beginning of commencement proceedings.

The carving on top of the mace represents the cupola of “Old Chambers,” which was the center of the College’s academic life from the late 1850’s until its destruction by fire in 1921. Below the cupola is the eight-sided base of the dome of the present Chambers building, which was rebuilt in 1931. Forming a circular band just below this base are the words Ne Ultra from the college seal and the words of the college motto Alenda Lux Ubi Orta Libertas (“Let Learning Be Cherished Where Liberty Has Arisen”).

Davidson Mace, showing motto, Ne Ultra

The college seal, designed by Peter Stuart Ney.

Mace showing Alenda Lux and Eumenean Hall

Eumenean (“Eu”) Hall

 

The knop of the mace consists of four wide and four narrow panels. Each wide panel represents symbols of the College, while each narrow panel reflects the College’s historical ties with the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Mace showing Philanthropic Hall

Philanthropic (“Phi”) Hall

Under the “Orta”, there are three Christian symbols with Presbyterian associations: the star of epiphany, the holy spirit descending in the form of a dove and the burning bush. Davidson’s Presbyterian heritage is further reflected in the mace’s carved crosses.

Mace showing the the sesquicentennial logo,

The sesquicentennial logo, designed by James Burkey Belser ’69.

 

Guest Blogger: Jalin Jackson, “I Don’t See Greek: Diagnosing Blindness and Redefining Inclusivity at Davidson College”

This is part one of a two-part post; the second post will be on Wednesday of this week.

I am a Class of 2019 Africana Studies and Latin American Studies double major at Davidson College from Camden, New Jersey. My interests range from the social and cultural intersections of the African diaspora and Latin America to the political and linguistic disparities between the two.

In the United States, many criticize the system for its failure to provide change inclusive enough to satisfy diverse populations. This system, whose evolutionary apparatus has been a combination of racism and white supremacy, cannot improve as long as its inconsistencies remain unchanged or are changed without its history in mind. In my opinion, Davidson College has done a decent job at separating itself as an institution from the greater system within which it exists. While the college has undone most discriminatory practices, blindness has been a leading instrument in the college’s push for improvement throughout its recent history. A system built on blindness – whether color-blindness, class-blindness, or any other form – is as flawed a system as one built on racism. This is not because one or the other is more prone to oppression, but instead because blindness does not work toward its own eventual goal of undoing structural oppression and underrepresentation. Davidson’s present reality of incomplete social inclusivity and color-blind ideologies can be attributed to its history of color-blindness as an apparatus of change in Davidson’s social realm. Contradictions of inclusivity within Patterson Court organizations, arguments against the diversification of Greek life, and minimal representation on campus have prolonged Davidson’s improvement historically.

Davidson College’s preference for color-blindness does not mean it is incapable of making anti-racist decisions. In terms of black student admission, Davidson had its first African American alumnus in 1968 with Wayne Crumwell, officially admitting him in 1964. This goes against the common narratives of near universal southern pushback against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that called for scholastic integration.

Black and white photograph of Wayne Crumwell, portrait style, 1968

Wayne Crumwell, Class of 1968

 

Just five years earlier, the Davidson College Board of Trustees insisted that 1959 was not a time when the “admission of Negroes” was in the “best interest of the College, of the Church, of the Students, or of any Negroes.”[1] In that same vein, in a pre-1964 majority report by a few higher-ups at Davidson College, there were some interesting arguments against the admission of African Americans to Davidson College. These ranged from how the college would have to “lower the quality of its education” to how the admission of blacks would encourage miscegenation, which was outlawed at the time.[2] Yet, as soon as the civil rights law compelled Davidson to comply with integration, the college as an institution did so relatively quickly. In addition to that, by 1970 the Black Student Coalition was founded on campus.[3] Davidson’s speed in diversifying its student body and providing representation for its minority student demographic are evidence of the college’s ability to push toward anti-racism and cultural representation despite strong opposition within the community. However, following the increasing level of diversity on campus in terms of gender and race, Davidson began to favor a color-blind ideology that guided decisions that would soon alter the appearance and atmosphere of the space.

By 1989, Davidson College had six white fraternities in Patterson Court. In that same year, a student debate regarding whether to introduce a black fraternity to Patterson Court surfaced. On October 25, 1989, a white Davidson College senior named Tom Moore wrote a piece responding negatively to one written by a Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., interest group a few weeks earlier. In his piece, Moore argued that a black fraternity “would segregate the campus” and that assimilation is the “best way to improve lines of communication”; he even contends that a black fraternity sounds like “the rationale for the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine” and that minorities on campus should just assimilate because Davidson’s predominately white social circles reflect the social reality of America.[4] Although radical, Moore’s comments illuminate the basis of the inclusivity argument that: existing social organizations at Davidson are already inclusive and the exclusivity of a different organization would fragment the campus. This inclusivity argument, as one will see, goes on to repeat itself throughout Davidson’s evolution. In response to Moore’s statements, black junior Darry Strickland published in the November 1, 1989 edition of the Davidsonian what would be the opposite pole of the debate. Strickland called out Moore on his “ethnocentric attitude” and communicated how black males at the college were forced to assimilate into white fraternities if they wished to participate in Greek life on campus at all.[5] Even though white fraternities at Davidson College were not allowed to racially discriminate explicitly at the time, there is a reason that black male students interested in Greek life were not joining these fraternities at the college en masse. The organizations may have been inclusive on paper, but not diverse enough. They maintained their inclusivity, neglecting why it failed in the diversification of white organizations. Although this contradiction of inclusivity was not necessarily the fault of the existing organizations on campus, Moore failed to acknowledge what black students wanted.

black and white photograph Melissa Givens, portrait style, 1989

Melissa Givens, Class of 1989

 

Black senior Melissa Givens makes this clear in the November 1, 1989 edition of the Davidsonian as well, providing more insight into how blacks fared in the Davidson social scene. In her commentary, she calls on Moore and the Davidson College community repeatedly to “accept and celebrate the differences” as opposed to recognizing them without their celebration, as the college had been doing.[6] In other words, some within the Davidson College had been viewing differences as divisive, including Moore. I agree with Givens that assimilation silences those voices that are not a part of the majority. Her argument combats color-blindness directly and is one of the earlier moments of analysis identical to mine.

 

Bibliography, Part One

[1] Davidson College Board of Trustees. Meeting Summary, 1959.

[2] Davidson College Admissions Committee, “The Majority Report of the Admission of Negroes to Davidson College.”

[3] “Black Student Coalition House Showcases New Student-Painted Mural,” Davidson College News, September 11, 2013.

[4] Tom Moore. “Here’s how a black fraternity could be a bad idea,” Davidsonian Column, October 25, 1989.

[5] Darry Strickland. “A black fraternity is not an insidious plot,” Davidsonian Column, November 1, 1989.

[6] Melissa Givens. “A frat is not separate but equal—just different,” Davidsonian Column, November 1, 1989

9th Annual “Ghost in the Library” Halloween Celebration

Guest Blogger: Niara Webb, Class of 2020

Last night’s  9th Annual Ghosts in the Library event was a smashing success! A record number of Davidsonians poured into the Rare Book Room to hear spooky stories by (LED) candlelight.

From left to right: Shelby Cline ’20, Dr. Andrew Leslie, Lee Kromer ’21 and Cameron Rankin ’21

Dr. Andrew Leslie of the Communications Department, who also happens to have been a professional storyteller for 20 years, started off the night. He told the tale of The Old Man and Tailypo, a story from North American folklore of an old hermit who is terrorized by a mysterious creature whose hunt for his missing tail leads to the old hermit. Next up was Lee Kromer ’21, who told an original tale of a man who was followed across continents by a murderer escaped from a Gulag prison camp. Shelby Cline ’20, recalled an experience with a mysterious supernatural being during a dark, early morning rowing practice. Cameron Rankin ’21 read the listeners a classic New England tale of a haunted house in which the owner had been buried beneath the hearth. Finally, Dr. Leslie shared one more story and the winner of the six-word horror story was announced: Hannah Lieberman ’18!

Hannah wrote, “But the paper was due… yesterday!!!” A Davidson-themed scary story to round off the evening.

Guests who survived the night of spooky tales were thanked with bags full of chocolates, Halloween candies, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Thank you to all who attended and we wish you a very happy Halloween!