There’s an irony in the heading Extracurricular. The Davidson Encyclopedia has 4 new entries on student extracurricular activities –in that they were written as curricular requirement. Students in a first year writing class on Leisure and Play spent weeks last fall learning about Davidson history through the lens of out of class experiences.
They worked in teams around 4 topics: honorary fraternities, independent student organizations, oversight or coordinating boards, and political engagement. Each group focused on a subset of organizations developing brief histories and sharpened their archival skills finding photographs and scanning Davidsonians.
The activity planning boards group wrote about the Interfraternity Council (once known as the Pan-Hellenic Council and now part of Patterson Court Council), the Publications (now Media Board) and the Union Board (still functioning as the Union Board). They discovered stories of streaking and frolics, self-selection controversies and literary magazines.
Research around honorary fraternities focused on the sciences, economics and music with Sigma Pi Sigma, Gamma Sigma Epsilon and Omicron Delta Epsilon and Phi Mu Alpha. Unexpected stories uncovered for this group included Davidson’s role in publishing a chemistry journal (serious work but with a few chemical jokes added in), our first female professor in economics, outdoors experiments on Chambers lawn, and the tradition of interfraternity sings.
Changes in student social life and service activities in the 21st century made some of the experiences of around independent student groups intriguing for our student researchers. Anyone remember Lingle Manor, Alpha Phi Omega or any of the co-ed eating houses:
Today’s students found more in common with the political and social groups. Although only one group, the College Republicans, still exists, the concerns of the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and Just Peace continue in new expressions.
You are invited to explore these new encyclopedia entries and the intersection of the history of extracurricular life and current writing curriculum.