Ethan Ehrenhaft – Self Selection Day, a Davidson tradition, underwent several major changes this year. Seen as one of the highlights of the second semester, Davidson tour guides are keen to mention the event to prospective students, which involves the infamous “run-around” in the evening. Self Selection Day is when new members join their respective social organizations. This means that fraternities receive new pledges and freshmen women are sorted into eating houses.
The women begin the day by being woken up at 7 a.m. by current members of the houses that they were selected into by the computer program. They then move to their houses, get to know other members, and dance for the remainder of the hour, after which they go to Commons.
The run-around is the day’s main event, during which upperclassmen in eating houses shower freshman in condiments and toppings while dancing. Each house has their own unique topping of choice, including paint, chocolate sauce, and condiments. Traditionally, the run-around consists of pledges dancing in each eating house for several songs after all the condiments had been sprayed. The boys would simultaneously try to get as many of the toppings on them as possible. This last part could understandably result in some uncomfortable situations. Changes that had been in the works for several years to remedy this feature of the evening were finally put into place this year.
The primary change behind Self-Selection Day 2017 was the order of the run-around. This year, boys visited the eating houses before the toppings began. The new schedule prevented boys from interacting with topping-covered girls, a change which caused some pushback amongst fraternities.
“There was some animosity when we first introduced the changes,” says Beth Wright ‘17, last year’s President of Warner Hall. Some fraternities viewed the move as taking away what had been a Davidson tradition for many years. According to Wright, “There was definitely a weird tension in the room when the changes were first introduced because some fraternity presidents were like ‘it’s a badge of honor to get all the toppings on you.’”
Regardless of tradition, the dancing while slathered in chocolate syrup and barbeque sauce was uncomfortable to many on a night that is supposed to welcome students into the fraternity and eating house system. The fact that the boys did not get as dirty this year was also a major relief for the cleaning staff.
Public relations were also a major factor behind the changes. In previous years, fraternities had the pledges dressed up in costumes for the event. For example, Sig Ep pledges formally wore diapers for the run-around. Patterson Court Council (PCC) felt these practices clearly violated Davidson’s hazing policy, and removed them for this year. Davidson has also faced some bad press recently, and did not need a major newspaper story about one of its students falling in syrup and breaking a leg while wearing a diaper. PCC President Patrick O’Connor ‘17 explained, “We wanted to make some subtle changes in the timing of things so that it was a little less risk behavior while still capturing the feel and enjoyable parts of the event.” Speaking to damage control, Eating House Ambassador Tara O’Herlihy ‘18 also stated, “If we don’t make a change, something is probably gonna happen.”
Ultimately, Self Selection Day 2017 proved successful. Few incidents occurred on a day that has traditionally been linked with injuries and an increase in sexual assault and alcohol abuse. Says Wright: “I think overall all of our events went really well. I think we made it exciting enough and gave people enough options.” While several fraternities voted against the resolution for change, public opinion was largely positive at an open PCC meeting held last week. With the new changes set in stone, several more are on the horizon. The run-around may be pushed back earlier in future years, again to minimize risk and drinking.