All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Class of 2017’

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Listen Up, Freshmen: Welcome Home


Listen up, freshmen!

Your parents are gone and classes are underway. You’re on your own now, but also kind of, you know, not. You’re free but not quite easy, footloose with fancies zooming all about your person. You are happy-dancing liberated for the very first time in your life in many ways, even while poking your swole noggin into the Davidson yoke of academic challenges like you have Never. Seen. Before. Just you wait. You will come to love a solid B, and perhaps even feel some real affection for a sketchy C+.

Here’s the thing: College is about more than academics, much more.

Precious, circa 1981

I’ve got my own academic Davidson transcript in a bottom drawer around here somewhere. It means nothing to me on its own. Oh, it’s fine by the numbers, mostly. But its important function is as a sort of Hogwartian “pensieve,” recalling to me a favorite professor’s wry humor or dramatic classroom athleticism or kind encouragement during office hours as I despaired—despaired, I tell you!—over some feckless failure on my part, real or imagined. A dramatis persona, I was.

Another swirling memory strand in my personal pensieve might enliven even today the ache I felt for a classroom crush’s clueless smile in my direction, or perhaps open the floodgates of many moments sublime and intervals hilarious in smoky dorm-room bull sessions, when I should have been writing some damn paper. (See “C+” above.)

You get the idea.

This past week, we’ve thrown a lot at you. In loco parentis, we’ve paired you as best we could with roommates, and herded you into workshops, and harangued you with orientations, and inspired you with speeches, and quizzed you in book sessions, and marched you around town on service projects….

Maybe it’s too much, I don’t know. Time was, an 18-year-old’s mom helped him carry in a small footlocker and a stereo, hugged him for as long as she could discreetly get away with in the stairwell, and then took off. Thanks, Mom.

But times change. We have helicopter parents now (or at least that’s what we call them in this century) and Facebook and texting and Skype in our pockets, all manner of tethers and temptations to poke the people we love all day long.

Resist this.

Resist the temptation to be in daily contact with the folks back home. I don’t mean you should eschew the occasional spontaneous point of howdy with a loved one, or even a late-night wail-fest with the parental units if you really need it. But I urge you to resist any and all stultifying consistency of constant contact with those who already know you best—but only know you so far.

Instead, give yourself room, real time in this real space, to claim your own Davidson experience and your own life, day by day, week by week. Craft it for yourself as you go along, with the help and ideas and care and spirit of this place and these people.

Be yourself, and become yourself.

Welcome home.

Happy Orientation, Class of 2017!


Welcome, Class of 2017!

What would move-in day at Davidson be if not steamy (not to say hot as Hades)?

By lunchtime, the Class of 2017 & Co. were happy to settle down under the shade of Chambers Lawn for a picnic lunch or in Vail Commons for an alumni luncheon. As an alumnus myself, I joined the latter gathering, where no fewer than 11 freshmen claim at least one of their parents as one of my 1985 classmates. Wow. And, further: Eleven (11), wow, wow! There’s a demographic sweet spot for you, and I’m proud to be a surrogate “loco parent” to these kids. Oh, wait, that’s not what the “loco” in in loco parentis means, you say? Hmm. Well, I’ll do my best.


So, this afternoon, I hopped on my trusty red bike and crossed muggy afternoon paths with my colleague Bill Giduz ’74, who shot the pictures you see here, as we followed the teeming hordes of our newfound loco kids to their various sessions. In the session on campus and religious life, the full rich pageant of this place’s heart and soul and belief and non-belief and religion and wonder and questioning was on full, vibrant display courtesy of the Chaplain’s Office.


Two quotes that came across the PowerPoint screen’s diverse display of Davidson students seeking and doing good: “World peace must develop out of inner peace.” —Dalai Lama, and “The longest journey is the journey inward.” —Dag Hammarskjöld. Welcome to the next stop on your longest journey, Class of 2017!


Over in the C. Shaw Smith 900 Room, upperclass student tech support workers were finishing up a presentation about all things IT. Electronic response cards in the hands of each student were tallying their answers to various questions, including “What operating system do you use?” One (1) person answered “I don’t know,” which generated some amusement. Might have been the same person who asked about how to set up a landline phone. “Um, you’ll have to come see us,” came the response. In fact, “Come see us” was a tagline on many responses—an oh-so-Davidson point of high-touch comfort in a high-tech world gone mad. I digress, but still. Nice to know there are real, good Davidson people on the other end of the fiber-optic or wireless connection!

“No, you didn’t!” Oh, yes, I did!”

Next stop, Barber Theatre for a talking-to by campus police. “Yes, we are the ‘real’ police,” students learned. There was plenty of useful information about all the ways to get in trouble—and more importantly all the ways not to (see in loco parentis, above)—up to and including free bike locks and a “silent witness” link on the cops website. Also, a plea for first-years to “like us on Facebook. Police officers don’t have a lot of friends….” Awwww. I like you, Davidson Campus Police! Now, about that parking ticket….

On to the next session…

Finally, over to E.H. Little Library for a bit of history and trivia. Students groaned with relief to know Davidson is no longer a manual labor school, and an even bigger sigh went up when the tales were told of the demise of beanie tradition and the school’s long-ago spirit color change from pink and blue to red and black. Whew, that would have made for some nasty-looking uniforms. They learned about the Ghost of Old Chambers and about the importance of upholding the tradition of looking one another in the eye and greeting one another on campus as fellow travellers, adventurers and gentlepersons. Earbuds or no earbuds, that simple and longstanding tradition is emblematic of a Davidson ethos and sense of shared character that Davidson alumni, faculty and staff cherish. We hope you do, too!


For more photos and Orientation coverage, check early and often at

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