It’s time to reevaluate homecoming practices– starting with royalty

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Homecoming kings and queens are often chosen based on popularity rather than character or achievements. Source: Betsy Hochman, The Knight Crier

BY JAYNE CHUNG
Staff Writer

With homecoming court announced and the buzz around the homecoming game and dance pervading the school, it’s time to reexamine the system behind electing the homecoming king and queen.

The homecoming king and queen are typically seniors whom the student body believes exemplify the spirit of the school. Since the practice of selecting a court for homecoming dates back to the nineteenth century and exists for both honor and tradition, our school’s custom of awarding court nominees during a five minute segment of a pep assembly seems to fall short of expectations. If homecoming court is supposed to honor the students who have given the most to our school, the homecoming nomination system should be revised to accurately reflect that ideal.

The voting process should first be modified to capture the opinion of the student body. Though the student-based nomination system definitely widened the range of people who could enter the court, there was a mere four day period of voting, and the sole announcement of court voting on Facebook (as the school announcements were inaudible) alienated the students who do not use social media on a regular basis. If the homecoming court is supposed to represent not only the opinions of the senior class but those of the entirety of the school, the voting should be made more public and accessible to all students.

Moreover, the process of choosing the court is oddly and disappointingly simplistic for an event that boasts the word “royalty.” Though over twenty girls were nominated for homecoming queen and over ten boys for homecoming king, there was only one round of voting before the court was chosen and announced, perhaps due to time constraints.

The greater problem, however, lies in the way the nominees were presented. The voting ballot showed only a list of names, turning the election into a name recognition game rather than a chance to vote for people whom students believe to deserved the title. If, for example, the nominees could submit a picture of themselves and a description of their contributions to the school, students could learn more about the candidates and make an informed decision before voting.
Another modification to better represent the ideals of the school would be changing the titles “king” and “queen” to gender neutral terms and removing the gender specifications to open up the  court to more students, which numerous other high schools have already done. Such steps would clearly be more inclusive, but the fundamentals such as the nomination and the selection process should first be reformed before we make any other alterations to homecoming practices.

University High School is already unique in that homecoming is not the same superficial pageant that it is in many other high schools. The call for the change in the nomination system is not meant to be an insult to the previous or current courts. Since the majority of the court are members of student government or are heavily involved in school sports and spirit anyway, the same candidates are likely to be elected despite changes to the system. Nevertheless, if homecoming is intended to select and celebrate the students who have dedicated themselves to the school, the tradition needs to evolve to become the event that it claims to be.

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