People on and off the Davidson College campus often talk about the “Davidson bubble” – that imagined barrier that keeps many students from venturing off campus. Every year, freshman orientation planners try to break down that wall by matching community members with new students for a 5K tour through town. About 500 incoming frosh made this year’s trek on Saturday, Aug. 24, to learn about the town and how can get involved in town affairs.
BELOW: A review of changes this summer on and off campus
I was one of those leaders, and I encouraged students to think about the walk as an attempt to “pop the bubble.” Once they navigate the confusion of moving to a new place, I hope they’ll make an effort to get off campus and engage with the community.
Our group seemed to match the diversity of Davidson’s student body, with students from as far away as California and China. One – Molly Goode – was from right here in Davidson. There were two guys from the same high school near Atlanta, a football recruit who has been here practicing for several weeks, and a young woman from Florida who came early for the college’s STRIDE program for minority students. (STRIDE stands for Students Together Reaching for Individual Development and Education.)
Walk leaders were a varied lot as well, with folks from Davidson Town Hall, college dining workers and other staff, the head of Our Towns Habitat for Humanity, and even a retired Davidson College president.
I think the “Davidson bubble” analogy works both ways. For those of us who don’t live on campus, it can sometimes seem impenetrable. There’s a lesson for residents here, too: We can and should be exploring the campus. The opportunities are many, whether it’s attending a concert, lecture or sporting event; mentoring a student; serving as a host family for an international student; or getting involved more deeply in a campus program.
Think about it. Students get an academic education in the classroom. We townies can help them learn about life outside the bubble.
By the way, Saturday’s walk also was a fundraiser for the Learn Works after-school program at Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson – a program that always draws a crowd of student volunteers from campus. The incoming freshmen raised $3,922.08 for the program.
STUDENTS RETURN TO CHANGES
Davidson classes start Monday, Aug. 27, and including the 500 or so incoming freshmen and transfers, the college now has just over 1,900 students – up by a couple of hundred over a few years ago.
There have been a few changes over the summer students were away. The campus bookstore and the Cats on Main spirit wear shop have moved into the former BB&T Building at Main and Depot streets.
The college also has a new $20 million dormitory on Patterson Court, next to the Tomlinson dorm (to help accommodate growth). With four- and five-story wings, a fitness center and computer work area, it will house 250 sophomores.
Also on Main Street, the one-story building at 212 S. Main St. next to Town Hall was demolished earlier this month to make way for a new 4-story office building. The new building, to be called Mooney’s Corner, will house the offices of J.J. Wade Insurance.
Two artsy additions also are in the works on Main Street. A public art project called the Davidson Book Garden is being constructed in an unused patch under a tree between the public library and CVS. And work will begin soon on a mural on the side of Summit Coffee, at 128 S. Main St., inspired by and commissioned by the Davidson Farmer’s Market.
Meanwhile, the town in September will introduce new limits on parking downtown, including along North Main Street and Concord Road. Some areas where all-day parking previously was permitted will now become 2-hour parking zones. Will students get the word before they get a ticket?
David Boraks lives on South Street and is founder and editor of DavidsonNews.net.
Aug. 23, 2012, DavidsonNews.net, “2-hr parking expanding downtown; Town Board meets Tues.
Aug. 14, 2012, DavidsonNews.net, “Downtown’s 1st mural will celebrate market and community”
Aug. 20, 2012, DavidsonNews.net, “Time to bake a cake for college’s Freshman Cake Race”
Aug. 3, 2012, Davidson.edu, “Workers Put Finishing Touches on Two New Collegiate Buildings”
Aug. 2, 2012, DavidsonNews.net, “Demolition makes way for Mooney’s Corner.”
July 31, 2012, DavidsonNews.net, “Signs of an opening ahead at campus store.”
July 10, 2012, “Book garden taking shape next to the public library.”
Davidson College orientation 2012 website.