Davidson College Trustee Bylaw Panel Discussion
On December 1st, I attended a Panel Discussion about Davidson’s bylaws around the religious quota for the Board of Trustees and the President of the college. The panel included Dahlia Krutkovich, a current Davidson Student who is the president of the Jewish Student Union, John Laughlin, a member of the Board of Trustees, Doug Ottati, a Davidson Professor of Reformed Theology, and Rob Spach, the college chaplain. It was moderated by Bob Henderson, also a member of the Board of Trustees and a Presbyterian Minister in Charlotte. Recently at Davidson there has been a lot of discussion around the requirement that 80 percent of the Board of Trustees must be Christian and that the president must be an active Presbyterian. These requirements are quite exclusionary, and many have argued that it goes against Davidson’s values.
I found it particularly interesting to hear from Dr. Ottati about Davidson’s reformed history and its ties to the Presbyterian church, and also to hear from Rob Spach about the religious makeup of Davidson College. I also appreciated that a student, Dahlia Krutkovich, was able to be a part of the panel: hearing a perspective from a current student who does not identify as Chrisitan contributed to the argument that the current bylaws are exclusionary. The reformed tradition is an important part of Davidson college, and I, as a Presbyterian, personally enjoy knowing that a Presbyterian community is present on campus for me. However, it is also important that there are a variety of religious and non-religious presences on campus, in order to foster a welcoming environment. Even within the reformed tradition, the exploration of new ideas and faiths is important to developing the “whole person.” This Panel Discussion further showed me how important it is that Davidson reforms these bylaws, in order to create an environment where all students feel welcomed and represented.