BackgroundInterview Date:April 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: I went to a private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Environmental Studies on the science track
Minor: Health and Human Values
Extracurricular Activities: I’m part of a dance company, I’m in an Eating House, I’m on the Honor Council, and I’m on the Health Justice Committee
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The dance company has been a really great experience for me because I really like to have an outlet to dance and be creative in a stressful school environment. It’s a really nice way to have leadership roles too, so it’s been nice to learn how to manage people. I’m also on Honor Council, which is our student judiciary system that helps enforce the Honor Code. That’s also been really important to me because I feel like my voice is heard on campus through that. I [play a part] in deciding how students who violate the Honor Code will be punished and work with them on how to better themselves after having a violation.
What is an Eating House?
At Davidson, there are two sororities, and both are historically Black sororities. I’m part of an Eating House, which is Davidson’s version of sororities because they are all-female organizations. What makes them different is that you don’t live in the house. Our house is basically a big cafeteria with a basement and a study room on the side. It’s also a lot less of a commitment than a sorority would be. The rush process is different because you rank which houses you want to be in and then an algorithm puts you in the house, rather than you having to impress girls and them picking you. It’s similar to sororities in that we have [big sisters] and we do social activities and volunteer service together. I also like that there are only four Eating Houses, so they are bigger groups of girls. It doesn’t feel cliquey because you get to pick which one you want to be in. You can be friends with girls in other Eating Houses. It’s a really good medium between a sorority and also not being part of a group.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Within the Environmental Studies major you can do the science track, the policy track, or the humanities track, and I’m on the science track. I usually have lab once a week and labs are about three hours long. I will usually have a lot of reading for lab. Readings are what takes up most of people’s time at Davidson because we get a lot of reading and, because there are small classes, you are expected to do the readings in order to participate in class.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
What’s really cool about Environmental Studies is that we get to go to a lot of the different places we have here at Davidson. We have an ecological preserve near campus so we’ll measure trees out there and look at seed dispersion and stuff like that. We have a farm too, so we’ll occasionally visit the farm. I actually took a food and farming class and part of the class was volunteering at the farm for a certain number of hours. We also have the Lake Campus, so as an Environmental Studies major I’ve been able to do some research there too.
I like that it’s a very interdisciplinary major. They require you to take classes in every discipline. I’m required to take two humanities classes and two social science classes, which I really like. As someone who is interested in all aspects of academics, it’s been really refreshing for me to break up my schedule with classes where I spend time thinking about different things.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think because it’s a liberal arts college you have a lot of students who come here to learn. It seems like pretty much everyone does the reading. Also, because it’s a liberal arts college, you’ll sometimes be in a class where, [you’re one of the few students who is not a major in that department]. That can sometimes be difficult, but I think it [is a great way to be exposed to different types of people on campus]. Everyone shines somewhere really well too, so that’s cool to see within your peers. It’s kind of a nerdy environment, but in a good way in that it inspires you to work harder to keep up with people. It’s also a pretty stressful environment because Davidson gives you [a lot of] work. It’s a very dedicated group of students at Davidson who come here with the expectation of spending a lot of time learning.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Sentelle in a double. They do a really good job of pairing people with roommates. From what I’ve seen, people rarely move out of their rooms freshman year.
Sophomore: A suite of two doubles connected by the bathroom. That’s a rare thing for sophomores to have. Generally, sophomores live in a similar type of environment that you live in freshman year.
Junior: Off campus apartment, but it’s not going to be more than a 10-minute walk from class.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I think Davidson is one of the safest places in the world. Because of the Honor Code, people don’t steal. I will leave my laptop and my wallet on a table in the library and go get food and then come back. People take it really seriously. Sometimes you’ll see a dollar tacked up to the wall with a message saying, “Found this! Claim it if it’s yours!” The area around Davidson is a town for families and older people. There has never been somebody who has made me feel uneasy to be on campus.
How walkable is the area around Davidson?
Our college ends right where the town’s main street is. People tend to drive to the grocery store, but that is because it’s difficult to walk back with groceries. Mostly everything is walkable and you don’t really need a car here.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I really like to go to the Lake Campus, which is still part of campus but is a 10-minute drive away. It’s a really nice place to go on weekends or to go after class.
Pros and Cons of being in Davidson, NC?
Pros: (1) It’s safe. [The overall crime rate in Davidson, NC is 54% lower than the national average.]
(2) There’s good food.
(3) It’s close to a city, but it doesn’t feel like you’re on an urban campus.
Cons: (1) There are no bars in the area.
(2) There are noise ordinances on the weekdays starting at midnight because it’s a family town, so you can’t party past midnight on the weekdays.
(3) There are no major chains in the town.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Most of the nightlife here is parties at senior apartments and at the different Eating Houses and fraternities. It depends on the semester and what time of year it is. Right now, it’s formal season because all of the Eating Houses have formals. You don’t have to go off campus to participate in drinking or partying. It’s all on campus for the most part. Davidson allows alcohol consumption in places where everyone who lives there will be 21. In the fall there are a lot of court parties, and because there are a lot of organizations here there are a lot of semi-formals and things like that.
What impact has the Eating House had on your nightlife experience?
I think being part of an Eating House is really good because Eating Houses will have a social event like every other weekend either at a house or at a senior’s apartment. The way things work with Eating Houses and fraternities is even if you’re not in the organization you’re still welcome to come for the most part. I think that’s really nice because there are only [1,800] people here, so you can’t really be picky because there aren’t that many people to go to the party. It’s a very inclusive environment.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
Friday and Saturdays are the most common night to go out. Fraternities will sometimes have parties in their houses on Wednesday nights and sometimes people go to the bars on Thursdays. I would say Wednesday, Friday, and Saturdays are the most common nights to go out.
How happy were you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Every once in a while, you want a few more people to be out, but I personally like it because you go out and you can talk to your friends instead of it being super loud and crowded. You also won’t go anywhere without knowing at least one person in the room. What I’ve enjoyed is knowing I’m going to be with a good group of people.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Three of them were on my hallway freshman year. Some of upperclassmen friends are from my Eating House, some others are from dance. Then a lot of people in my friend group involve my closest friends’ freshman year roommates.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s what you make of it. You could go out three to four times a week if you want to, but there are also a lot of other activities that go on. I like it because I like having more chill experiences with people who I know and trust. It’s not wild, but it’s fun in a different way than a state school is. Coming from a small school, I really liked going out to parties and hanging out with my friends on the weekends.
Do you feel that people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Yeah, I would say so. Our Black Student Union has a house on Patterson Court, which is where all the fraternity and sorority houses are. Some of the Eating Houses are diverse and some are not. In general, I do feel they mix, but there is always room for improvement.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Davidson College before entering as a freshman?
The food here is not great. Because it’s a small school, you’re going to have more limited options. That’s something I wish I had known, but I don’t think it would have changed my decision. You have to develop strategies, like getting granola bars for the morning because you don’t want to go get breakfast. I bring my own salad dressing with me because I don’t like the options that they have.
What I didn’t know but have come to love are the Eating Houses. I didn’t realize how important that was going to be for my experience until I got here.
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
If you can get to the Lake Campus, that’s pretty awesome. When I visited, I went and sat in the dining hall. Having lunch there is important because you get a sense of the food, and also who the people are there.
Reasons to attend Davidson:
1) Class sizes. [The average class size is 15 students.]
2) There are really good people. The people here are all very cool, everyone has something about them that’s interesting.
3) Eating Houses.
4) The campus is beautiful.
Reasons to not attend Davidson:
1) The food on campus is not very good.
2) It’s a hard school.