Davidson College, whose "Christian tenure" policy has touched off controversy here since at led to the withdrawal of a job offer to a non-christian, holds a $35,000 contract with the National Institute of Health, but federal officials doubted that the government contract would expose the Presbysterian affiliated college to enforcement fo anti-discrimination laws.
Under the contrat, Davidson supplies, voulunteer students to NIH for medical research in body health. The contract requires that students, who are paid for their services, be selected without regard for race, sex or religion, according the NIH officials.
Davidson's Christian tenure policy prohibits the granting of tenure to non-Christian faculty, except in rare circumstances. The policy came under public scrutiny recently when the college withdrew its offer to Dr. Ronald Linden, of Princeton University, after Linden, a political science professor who is jewish, pledged to fight the tenure policy.
A pokesman for the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare said the agency was aware that Davidson held a federal contract, but said no complaint against the college has been filed.
"We're not looking into it yet," the official said.
Students and faculty on the campus have begun a petition drive to get the college trustees to abolish "Christian tenure."
Dr. Samuel Spencer, president of Davidson, has scheduled a hearing next week for the students and faculty prior to a regular meeting of the college trustees.
Members of the college's governing board include Dean Rusk, the former Secretary of State who was graduated from Davidson in 1931.
Rusk, a Universtiy of Georgia professor, declined to comment during a telephone interview today.
Rusk pointed out that in recent years Davidson has liberalized its hiring practices.
Linden, a visiting lecturer at Swarthnore College, has accepted a teaching post beginning next fall at the University of Pittsburgh.