A majority of Davidson College students who voted in a referendum this week said they favor removing a requirement that the college’s president be a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA). In the vote on campus Monday, students joined the college’s faculty and alumni in conveying their disappointment over a recent Board of Trustees decision not to change the college bylaws.
In the vote, 83 percent of students who voted said the support changing the college’s bylaws. About 33 percent of students participated in the referendum, which came in the middle of finals week at the college. Student Government Association President Chris Ragsdale said the turnout was “exceptionally high,” considering that elections during the school year typically bring a 40 percent turnout, and that about one-quarter of the student body was already off campus by the time of the referendum.
Students were asked whether or not they agreed with the following statement and wished for it to be transmitted to the board of trustees:
“I believe that Article IV Section 1 of the bylaws of the Trustees of Davidson College is not an accurate reflection of the values of our institution. Please consider removing the religious requirement of this bylaw to more appropriately reflect the spirit of our community. By doing so you will help affirm Davidson’s tradition of inclusiveness and respect for people of all faiths.”
In a message to the student body Wednesday afternoon, SGA president Chris Ragsdale ’14 said, “I can now say with certainty that an overwhelming plurality of the student body of Davidson College is in strong disagreement with the Trustees’ recent decision not to change the presidential bylaw qualification, requiring our President to be Presbyterian.”