Latin Honors Nixed, Graduating Seniors to Receive Diplomas in Order of 2015 Cake Race Times

CHAMBERS LAWN –– Davidson’s 182nd Commencement Ceremony will include some noteworthy changes. The college’s annual graduation exercises, which will be be held on Sunday May 19, will no longer feature graduates receiving their diploma in the traditional order of Latin Honors. Following concerns raised by students about the validity of the tradition, college officials decided to institute a more modern and equitable approach for the Class of 2019.

In previous Commencement ceremonies, graduating seniors have received diplomas in the following order: those qualifying for summa cum laude (4.0 GPA) designation, followed by magna cum laude (3.750-3.999 GPA), then cum laude (3.50-3.750 GPA), and finally all those with below a 3.50 cumulative grade point average. Over the course of the spring semester, several students questioned the fairness of this system, pointing out that such a focus on grades during Commencement may overshadow the wide range of non-academic pursuits that are integral to the values of the Davidson community. This logic resonated with many who saw the Latin Honors order as hackneyed and ill-suited to Davidson’s mission.

In response to the considerations raised by students, the college administration decided to take action. In a landmark policy change, the Latin Honors ordering was scrapped and will be replaced by a more egalitarian system: the calling of graduates in order of their finishing times at the Freshman Cake Race held annually during Orientation.

Support for the new system appears to be almost unanimously positive. Jake DiFillipo ‘19 remarked, “GPA is such an arbitrary and outdated way to compare people, especially when we should all be celebrating the accomplishment of managing to graduate from this place. But speed, now everyone can agree that speed is objective, unbiased, and the only sensible way to compare students who are all so talented in their own ways.”

Despite the enthusiastic reception for the new policy, there are some logistical issues that need to be addressed in order to ensure its smooth implementation. For instance, there are two students in the senior class––Alexis Quickfeet ‘19 and Evan Slowpoke ‘19––who had the exact same Cake Race finishing time, down to the millisecond. In order to resolve this issue, Adams and Cooper are set to go head-to-head on the Cake Race loop during the morning of graduation in order to determine whose name will be called first.

At press time, the Dean of Students Office announced that students who did not participate in the Cake Race are bound by their honor to gather outside of Baker Sports Complex following Saturday’s “Beer Truck” festivities during Commencement weekend and complete the loop the night before they graduate. 

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