|Deadline Approaches to Register for Alumni Association-Sponsored Weekend on Diversity
October 20, 2009
Contact: Bill Giduz
The Davidson College Alumni Association is sponsoring a weekend of activities November 6-8 to support the college's ongoing efforts to diversify its family and better serve its alumni of color and international alumni.
Events will include three major discussion sessions on the past, present and future of campus diversity, guest speakers, several meals with informal discussion, and the opportunity to enjoy a performance by the Davidson Dance Ensemble, or the men's basketball game against Lenoir-Rhyne.
The registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 23. Registration is open to all members of the Davidson family, and can be completed at www.davidson.edu/alumni, or by calling 704-894-2111.
The event is being sponsored by the Alumni Association Board of Directors through its Alumni of Color Engagement committee.
Rusty Lindsey '76, a member of the Alumni Association Board and one of the principal organizers and hosts of the event, explained that the impetus for it stems from the lower rate of participation by alumni of color in events such as reunions, alumni gatherings, and fundraising efforts. "Why is that happening?" asked Lindsey. "We hope that this weekend will give us some ideas about how we can foster a better long-term relationship between the college and this segment of its alumni body."
Participants will hear remarks from College President Tom Ross '72 and men's basketball coach Bob McKillop. They will hear a panel discussion on "Davidson Then and Now: Where We've Been and Where We're Going," and will interact with students of color about the contemporary campus experience. They will also have an opportunity to offer suggestions in small group feedback sessions.
Lindsey acknowledged that the issue isn't new, and he anticipates hearing many of the same feelings expressed that have been held since the college admitted its first students of color in the 1960s.
He said, "As someone who attended in the 1970s, a lot of us didn't feel very welcomed by some parts of the community, and I suspect some of that continues to a lesser degree today."
Lindsey himself let a decade pass between the time he graduated and the next time he had any significant contact with his alma mater. But at his 10th reunion he participated in a roundtable discussion with students, and heard them complain about issues that sounded very familiar to him. "That was both frustrating and illuminating, and I decided then to try to make Davidson a better experience for its students of color," he said.
Though there's probably no single way to alleviate the unease felt by minority students in Davidson's majority white student body, Lindsey said there's value and relief in talking about it. "It's good to have the opportunity to talk and know someone is listening, to know that the institution is hearing what you have to say," he commented.
Lindsey said that the upcoming weekend's events mark a beginning in what promises to be an ongoing effort by ACE to increase alumni participation in college affairs. "No matter what the student experience, Davidson is where many of us have laid the foundation for life and career," Lindsey said. "The college can't get complacent about this part of its population. Though Davidson is continually becoming more diverse, it needs to encourage and enable input from students and alumni of color about how it should grow and evolve to successfully remain relevant in a changing society."
This weekend's activities are consistent with Davidson College's broader approach to creating a campus culture that promotes understanding and acceptance of diversity in its broadest sense. This is one of the four strategic objectives in Davidson's strategic plan; read more at www.davidson.edu/strategic_assessment.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,800 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.