Davidson College is an institution of higher learning established in 1837 by Presbyterians of North Carolina. Since its founding, the ties that bind the college to its Presbyterian heritage, including the historic understanding of Christian faith called The Reformed Tradition, have remained close and strong. The college is committed to continuing this vital relationship.
As a college that welcomes students, faculty, and staff from a variety of nationalities, ethnic groups, and traditions, Davidson values diversity, recognizing the dignity and worth of every person. Therefore, Davidson provides a range of opportunities for worship, civil debate, and teaching that enrich mind and spirit. Further, Davidson challenges students to engage in service to prepare themselves for lives of growth and giving.
For more than three decades, respect for the Honor Code has permitted Davidson students the unusual freedom of scheduling their own exams and taking them in any classroom of the college’s main academic building—unproctored.
Initiated in 1971, the benefits of self-scheduled exams gives students a significant stake in making sure the Honor Code is maintained throughout the academic year. President Emeritus Samuel Spencer made that point strongly in a 1979 memo, writing, “Because it is a privilege that students prize and want to keep, the self-scheduled exam system injects an element of self-interest which reinforces student support of the Honor Code as a whole… they are an added incentive to reinforcement of the concept of a campus community based on honor.”
The Honor Code, signed by every entering student, states that “Every student shall be honor bound to refrain from cheating (including plagiarism). Every student shall be honor bound to refrain from stealing….from lying about official college business….Every student shall be honor bound to report immediately all violations of the Honor System which come under his or her observation….”
Freshman Cake Race
A tradition that has endured by allowing change to happen.
Freshmen year is a nervous and scary experience for almost every Davidson student. For the incoming class of ‘34 the experience was made even more grueling by a mandatory 1.7 mile race. This race, which has been held every year since, (except during WWII and 1972) has become a trademark of Davidson College and its incoming freshmen; it is the Cake Race (On your mark…get set…go for Cake). Although the race has been an annual event for the past seventy-three years, it has gone through some alterations in order to keep up with the changing face of Davidson College.
The race was established by Davidson track Coach Pete Whittle; his goal was to uncover hidden talent in the incoming freshmen class and ask them to come out for the track team (Conn). Fortunately, Coach Whittle knew that forcing the freshmen class to run almost two-miles could not be done without an incentive, and that is where the “cake” in Cake Race comes in. Currently, cakes are the only reward waiting for the winners at the end of the race, but when the tradition first began, items such as “haircuts, picture shows, and various other remunerations offered by the different industrial and economic organizations in Davidson” were given out as well (Morrow Comes in First in Freshmen Cake Race). (Mayer) The cakes rewarded to the winners are donated by people in the Davidson Community, mostly professors or their spouse. The Cake Race is not simply a competition between runners; it is also a contest to see who can bake the best cake. Participation today is now voluntary; whereas, in the beginning “The race was mandatory unless you were in the infirmary or had only one leg” (On your mark…get set…go for Cake). Despite the changes, the race still brings out many participants and spectators every year.