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Activism and Protests at Davidson College

A guide to archival collections and materials related to the history of student activism at Davidson College.


In recent decades, LGBTQIA+ activism and advocacy has increased on campus through the creation of student organizations, education about LGBTQIA+ life and issues, and an expansion on-campus support and resources. Campus conversations around LGBTQIA+ life began primarily in the 1980s and continue today. Student organizations, such as FLAG (Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance), formed on-campus as a resource for queer students to explore their identities and to promote advocacy and acceptance. During the 1980s and 1990s, as the AIDS epidemic affected populations on a local, national, and international level, Davidson was not left unaffected. Scotty Nichols, the former director of Residence Life, created quilt squares in remembrance of students and staff who passed away due to AIDS and in 1994, the AIDS Memorial Quilt was brought to campus and displayed in Johnston Gym, now the Alvarez College Union. 

Page from 1997 Quips and Cranks about FLAG. Features organization description and photo of memberPage of Quips and Cranks for the student organization FLAG

Page from 1997 Quips and Cranks about FLAG

LGBTQIA+ advocacy and support continues on campus today through various campus resources, including student organizations like Queers & Allies (Q&A) and You Are Not A Stranger Here (YANASH), the Davidson LGBTQ+ Alumni Network (DLAN), and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Coverage in The Davidsonian

Campus publications, such as student newspaper The Davidsonian, covered events related to student activism and campus issues. For more information on LGBTQIA+ advocacy on campus, browse digitized issues of The Davidsonian, online and available here. Individual issues are searchable by keyword.

Select articles related to LGBTQIA+ advocacy include:

"The silent minority" An anonymous opinion piece on what it is like to be gay at Davidson. (February 7, 1986, pg. 13) 

"BGLAD comes out" (October 25, 1999, pgs. 1 and 5)

"SGA creates 'Safe Space'" (October 8, 2008, pg. 2) 

"Homophobia is elephant on campus" (October 8, 2008, pg. 8)

"Blake and Currie push through non-discrimination proposal" (January 31, 2007, pg. 3)

Archival Materials

Archival materials are the institutional records of Davidson College from its establishment in 1837 to the present day. Included within the collections are president's office records, academic department files, and student organization records. Listed below is a selection of relevant collections related to LGBTQIA+ life on campus. Collections are organized by record group, along with a brief description of the collection's contents, and are hyperlinked to the collection's digital finding aid.

Institutional Research, Self Study Records, 1965 - (RG 2-5-3)

Description: The office oversees the gathering and reporting of data for reports to government agencies, publications, and other organizations and coordinates applied research intended to inform institutional planning, policy formulation, and decision making. Included are reports on the student experience, the establishment of non-western studies programs, religious life, and "special populations" sub-committees, including a report from the Committee on the Student Experience - Subcommittee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Student Concerns.

Vice President of Student Life, Dean of Students, Records, 1926 - (RG 6-1)

Description: This collections consists of administrative files from the Vice President of Student Life's office, including annual reports from divisions, committee files, planning files for orientation and hall counselor training, and files on student organizations. Included are records related to the student organization FLAG (Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Human Sexuality Week, and the AIDS Quilt. 

Student Government Association (SGA), Records, 1927 - (RG 12-4)

Description: This collection consists of records from SGA, including information on student clubs and organizations, meeting minutes from various SGA committees, and documents related to campus life and policy decisions. Included are records related to the student organization FLAG (Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the Council on Minority Affairs.

Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), Records, 2001- (RG 12-83)

Description: After several other unsuccessful attempts, the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) was created by Alison Shea (class of 2003) and held its first meeting on September 26, 2001.This collection contains event announcements, meeting flyers, articles concerning the creation of the Gay-Straight Alliance, and flyers concerning the Day of Silence. 

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