Two weekends ago, Ursinus celebrated its annual Homecoming Weekend. The event gives family and alumni the opportunity to come hang around campus for the day, watch some football, and catch up with old friends. It’s hard not to get excited about reconnecting with friends and family that you haven’t seen in a long time, which makes it one the most anticipated events of the year.
While the festivities and the people never disappoint, there is one aspect of the celebration that I find to be increasingly unnecessary and out-of-date. After experiencing my first homecoming, I questioned the purpose of the homecoming court, specifically, the voting for king and queen. I don’t understand why Ursinus or any other school for that matter still carries on this ritual.
An email from the Ursinus College Student Government outlined the rules for homecoming nominations. The rules stated that a club or organization needs to raise at least 100 dollars in order to nominate someone for king or queen. The money raised from nominations is donated to a charity chosen by the winner of each position.
Even though the money raised goes to charity, being homecoming king or queen doesn’t carry any weight. You don’t have to work to achieve the title, and you certainly don’t have to do anything once it’s won. This turns the voting process into a straight-up popularity contest. What else could the voters possibly base their votes off of?
If the voter sees a name they recognize and a bunch they don’t, they’re going to pick the name they’re familiar with. Additionally, if a voter sees more than one name they recognize, they’re probably going to pick the nominee they are closest with. Clearly in a system like this, the contestant who is closest with the most people (the most popular) will probably win.
According to Jake Banks, a senior, winning means “You’re basically considered ‘the guy’ on campus.” Banks continued, “I mean, who doesn’t want to be the king?”
Banks, who was nominated for homecoming king himself this year, couldn’t have said it any better. Who doesn’t want to be king or queen?
Singling out two individuals to wear crowns in front of the school doesn’t really offer an appreciation of all students and alumni like other traditions associated with homecoming. Really, this process separates the student community by making them choose favorites.
Also, many students don’t seem to take the voting process seriously, let alone acknowledge it at all.
Banks said of his campaign trail once he was nominated, “When I was running around trying to get people to vote for me, a lot of them didn’t know that the voting had even opened up yet.”
While the voting process had just snuck up on some students a little quicker than they would’ve thought, many other students were somewhat aware that the voting was underway but were simply putting it off or ignoring it.
“I got like three emails about it from the school, but didn’t vote until my friend who was nominated made me do it in front of her,” said Barron Natelli, a junior. “I definitely think more people should be voting: The contest gets lopsided otherwise.”
Since students mainly neglect the voting process, the results do not accurately represent how the students actually feel. But really, the lack of interest in the homecoming court process signals the need to get rid of this specific tradition altogether, especially when most students will not vote unless their friend is nominated or someone repeatedly mentions it to them.
To be honest, I think the idea of the homecoming court is extremely flawed and there’s no way to make it anything other than a popularity contest. I say this because when we vote for most things in life, we are encouraged to consider all of our options and then make an informed decision.
When it comes to the homecoming court, we are rarely informed about the nominees in enough time or we are not invested in the ritual as whole. Students don’t look into every single contestant and decide who would hold the position best because the position doesn’t hold any weight other than that of the plastic crown.
The structure of the homecoming court makes it an outdated ritual that favors individuals rather than community. This doesn’t really fit within the tradition of homecoming here or at other schools across the country. It’s time to let go, Ursinus.