Don’t forget the Davis Scholars

tablished to educate women in a society that preferred to educate men. As American society warmed up to women’s education, Wellesley began was already a pioneer in other ways. Our institution created a continuing education program for nontraditional students so that they too could receive a Wellesley undergraduate degree.

The Davis Scholars fill a unique niche on our campus. It is necessary to actively engage Davis Scholars in everyday Wellesley activities and traditions since other Wellesley students can learn from their varying experience. The Davis Scholars are an extremely diverse and unique community on campus, and we are currently failing to fully incorporate them into the student body.

This year, Davis Scholars weren’t invited to the Senior Reception at the President’s House. While this may have been accidental or unintentional, it is a strong indicator of how the campus knowingly or unknowingly excludes the Scholars. Additionally, Wellesley has been accepting a lower number of Davis Scholars. According to the 2013-2014 Factbook, in less than two decades, Wellesley has dropped from enrolling 36 Scholars in 1996 to only 13 in 2012 and 8 in 2013. Among others, the editorial staff believes these actions and statistics demonstrate a need for Wellesley to reevaluate the presence of Davis Scholars.

The 25 percent acceptance rate for the Davis Degree Program is one of the most competitive in the United States for continuing education. Davis Scholars are typically over 24 years old and have a separate application process from first-year and transfer students. They also have a separate orientation that is tailored to adult, work and family responsibilities. Davis Scholars take the same number of classes and have the same academic degree requirements as other Wellesley students.

Additionally, the College provides special programming and spaces on campus so that Davis Scholars may take advantage of their distinctive community, such as the CE House. Some Davis Scholars are involved in the same groups and activities as traditional Wellesley students, including Senate and SHE positions.

Davis Scholars play a vital role on campus, and they bring diversity. In all cases, diversity is crucial to community; it brings in experience and contributes to culture. However, there is a difference between having diversity and engaging in diversity. We normally think of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or religion. Wellesley’s continuing education program effectively adds age and life background as factors of diversity. The College is currently failing to engage with this diversity and fully incorporate Davis Scholars into the community.

While there are many traits that set Wellesley apart from other colleges, Davis Scholars are one of the College’s more unique characteristics.The Wellesley community should not see the Davis Scholars as a special community that is walled away by a difference in age; rather, we should understand that the Scholars are as much a part of the Wellesley experience as any group.

1 Comment

  • Janice Hayhoe says:

    I think more people are aware to include Davis scholars now then when I entered 5 years ago; however, there are still many things where things like this happen especially amongst seniors and graduating Davis Scholars because it’s not always known when our graduation date is. Davis scholars aren’t included in the typically “class of 20??” email address unless they they spend a lot of time and effort to try to get added to one, they are all on the DavisScholars@wellesley.edu address. Also it’s not just invitations, the t-shirts at graduation with everyone’s names on it never have the walking Davis scholars names on them, even when though their names are in the program. We are proud to be (and have been) a part of the Wellesley Community, I’m so glad to see awareness like this 🙂

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