Issues of free speech and community tolerance arose during the fall semester when The Davidsonian printed a pair of op-ed pieces examining the college’s stance on homosexuality. In the November 4, 2009, edition of the student newspaper, a senior wrote, “The scriptures of the Old and New Testaments… plainly attest that homosexuality is rebellion against our perfect Creator.”
In a separate piece, a member of the junior class wrote that her faith “tradition affirms that God created everything and declared it good. …The openness of the school and its support for the GL BTQ [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning] community speaks volumes to the heritage of Davidson in the Presbyterian tradition.”
The op-eds sparked an intense campus discussion, during which College Chaplain Rob Spach ’84 hosted a forum on homosexuality and Christianity. During the two-hour discussion, students talked about both sides of the issue, some expressed support for gay students, some questioned the decision to publish the op-eds, and some asked about the administration’s stance on homosexuality and diversity.
Davidsonian editor-in-chief Brett Willis ’10 said, “The last thing we want to do on this campus is limit free speech. We may personally disagree with the article, but I don’t feel that as an editorial staff we have the right to limit what we publish based on our personal beliefs.”
President Tom Ross ’72 affirmed the sanctity of free speech, adding that issues of diversity are hard to talk about, “but if you don’t talk about them, it’s worse. The kind of discussion that occurs is important to building a community of respect and a community not just of tolerance, but one where we can embrace difference.”
In addition to the forum, some students organized a “moment of loudness” around the flagpole on the north side of Chambers, where some members of the college community gathered to raise a ruckus and “celebrate the harmony of diversity.”