Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2012 11:05
This article is in response to Aria Halliday’s article titled “Oh Davidson!” and Cidney Holliday’s article titled “What I want at Davidson.” Our intention is to provide an alternative perspective, illustrating our belief that Davidson embraces diversity and takes pride in its liberal arts curriculum. Furthermore, we believe that the College promotes discussion on issues of diversity frequently and has taken steps to expand its curriculum in an adaptive way for the 21st century.
Beginning with Halliday’s third paragraph, which suggests that Davidson is complacent “with all encompassing whiteness,” Halliday asserts that the College’s curriculum and faculty are outdated and disregard Davidson’s purpose. We found this statement particularly offensive, since we chose to attend Davidson largely because of its outstanding professors and commitment to academic rigor. The suggestion that the curriculum is not challenging or thought-provoking is ludicrous. Please show me your 4.0.
As far as “‘studies, disciplines, and activities that are liberating,’” we’ve experienced many. Sometimes that has meant enjoying a simple meal with freshmen halls of students from a range of backgrounds or taking a class examining the works of a 17th-century British author with a world- renowned scholar for a semester. Believe it or not, the author of the literature we were discussing and the amazing professor leading our class were white!
We do not believe that there is a culture of racism on campus. Halliday’s view that “there is hardly anyone here who questions their privilege or the racist...things that they say” is inaccurate in its conclusion because of its faulty premise—that many Davidson professors and students (who are white) cast a condescending eye on their minority colleagues. We have not seen evidence that this is the norm.
Halliday also objects to the limitations of the College’s liberal arts curriculum. She asks, “HOW can this be a liberal arts education when so many things are left out?” Unfortunately, that’s the result of attending a small liberal arts college with a small faculty that attempt to cover a breadth of subjects. This is not a problem of “diversity.” There are limitations on what the College can offer, whether it lacks classes on non-European/Asian art or a seminar examining the growing importance of the U.S. Supreme Court between 1800 and 1845. A large research institution would be more likely to offer these and other specific topics.
Similarly, Cidney Holliday complains, “Without more professors who specialize in the experiences of Black People, Queer People, and the experiences of other marginalized groups, I lose the well-rounded education I expected to receive at this liberal arts institution.” While faculty who specialize in these topics would certainly add to the educational breadth of the College, we believe that Davidson intends for students to receive a “well-rounded” education in a slightly different way, encompassing a variety of subjects, including the social sciences, natural sciences, history, mathematics, religion, philosophy, literature, writing and foreign language. Additionally, Davidson ensures that students are exposed to foreign cultures by requiring that they take a course in cultural diversity. Beyond that, an overwhelming majority of each class studies abroad at some point during their Davidson careers.
Finally, Holliday concludes by praising the commitment of the faculty that make Davidson such a special institution before explaining, “But a college that recruits more diverse faculty and keeps them here is what I want.” We can’t say that along with Holliday; we want the best faculty regardless of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, whatever.
In sum, Davidson embraces diversity with open arms and promotes learning at its highest level in a well-rounded way. We’re sad that members of our community feel that Davidson perpetuates a sense of racial inequality, and we share Halliday’s desire that no student in the Class of 2015 will feel a need to write a letter like hers during senior year.
Logan Lewis ’12 is a Classics major from Chester, SC. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Marcus Bailey ’15 is undeclared from Dennis, Massachusetts. Contact him at email@example.com.