Committee Makes Changes to Promote Inclusion in Homecoming Court

DyAnna Grondahl
dgrondahl@css.edu

Stories of kings and queens are classic, but also outdated, as has been presented to the College of St. Scholastica’s Homecoming Committee in regards to the gender-restrictive homecoming royalty tradition. As a result, CSS is taking a step forward to promote inclusion.

The homecoming court will take a more gender-equitable path this year, as nominees have the option to select whether they would like to nominated for the role of king or queen.

“This is an important step in a new direction for CSS, and shows the changing priorities and needs of our student population,” said Michael Johnson, a CJL coordinator. “We know that a lot of times transgender and gender nonconforming folks such as myself face barriers that don’t allow them to express their gender identities in a way that is comfortable to them.”

Carrie Krueger, Associate Director of Alumni Relations and the chair of the Homecoming Committee told the Cable how the story unfolded. During nominations, the binary terms king and queen were addressed as being limiting. The homecoming committee took the feedback and decided to start thinking and changing things to make process more inclusive. As of now, they have made it possible for those who are nominated to chose which monarch term they would like to categorized under. The next step in the process is to brainstorm change for next year, which will be up to a committee being put together solely for this purpose.

Krueger also mentioned St. Scholastica’s Benedictine values, primarily in the light of being respectful and mindful of community. She addressed that the school embrace a new, more inclusive tradition that highlights benedictine values.

“What we are doing is making sure that the traditions that we embrace include everyone,” said Krueger. “It feels natural.”

Johnson and Chey Lemm, senior and non-binary nominee for the 2016 homecoming king, addressed some of the issues that still need tweaking.

They both mentioned their excitement at the changes, but the gender binary is still an issue for those who are excluded. Johnson proposed a system in which students elect two “monarchs”
from the nominated students.

“A homecoming court that goes beyond just king and queen is definitely the direction we should be headed in,” said Johnson.

Additionally, Lemm said there was a lack of variance of who can be on the court.

“It is assumed that three men and three women should be nominated,” said Lemm. “To me this has caused many in the LGBTQ+ community to feel unwelcome. This happens two ways – the gender binary narrows who is comfortable with being on the court.”

Lemm’s second complaint was in regards to the nomination process in which students are sent a link that prompts the choice of a male who is active in the community, but under queen you fill out information for a female. The language is gendered, Lemm said. Additionally, Lemm feels the need for more solid bases in justification of why someone should be nominated into a position of homecoming royalty, including club membership, leadership positions, volunteering, and extra-curriculars.

The beauty of these changes, according to Johnson, that many changes of this nature come from the bottom up. Students can play an active role in how things work on campus, especially when they voice their concerns.

“I’ve seen the start of a cultural shift in the way our community responds to our students from diverse and multicultural backgrounds…” said Johnson. “Things in our little campus community are changing, and I feel these changes are preparing CSS to stay current rather than stagnate.”

The moral of this king and queen story is the importance of inclusivity. And like many good stories, it makes people feel happy.

“I am excited to be involved in the process of change that is happening in the CSS community,” said Lemm. “We are taking steps to be more inclusive and that is something that gives me warm fuzzies!”