Guest Post by Rachel Barry
Ten men and women dressed-to-impress stood shivering before a mass of Albion College students, families and alums seated in the stands of Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium during halftime of the homecoming football game this past Saturday. A drum roll broke the silence as the announcer revealed the Albion Royalty for the 2015 Albion Homecoming court. What makes this year different, however, is that there were three names, not two, that reverberate throughout the stadium: Kristine Baker, Justin Duchene and Jessica Scott.
For the first time, Albion College has done away with the traditional homecoming king and queen. This system has been replaced with the Albion Royalty, a non-gender specific selection of three students from the homecoming court chosen by the student population through an anonymous vote. There are mixed feelings about the new system.
“Personally I found it strange at first because it was not discussed among the student body and was rather just imposed upon us,” said royalty winner Kristine Baker. She went on to say that she has “heard many negative things said about it around campus [but is] sure that once students are more exposed to it, there won’t be as much negative thoughts.”
Madi Kase, Boise, Idaho, sophomore, is the chair of Student Senate’s Engagement Committee. This position places her in charge of all of Student Senate’s role in homecoming. According to Kase, this plan has been in the works since before she took over the position at the beginning of this school year.
Kase said, “As Student Senate, we are here to represent all of the students at this school, including those that do not claim a gender.” She believes the change from a king and queen to non-gender specific royalty is “a progressive and necessary move by student senate.”
Even Baker admits, “After hearing the positive effects of having three non-gender winners, I did not mind the switch.”
Some students question even the relevance of a homecoming court at the college level. According to Kase, members of homecoming court are exemplary students that show strong character. Winners receive a plaque as opposed to the more traditional, and materialistic, crown. Kase said, “I don’t know how important homecoming court is to everyone, but that does not matter. To the people that do not claim a gender, any move toward gender neutrality and equality is a step in the right direction.”
Disputes aside, with an anxiety-packed football game, delicious food and decent weather by any Michigander’s standards, Albion Homecoming 2015 was an undeniable success. Even with the controversial switch from monarchy to royalty, the student body as a whole seems very happy with the end results. Baker summed up the successful event when she said, “It was an amazing experience, one that I would do over in a heartbeat.”
The move to become gender-neutral in the homecoming system is becoming more widely accepted. According to the Journal Sentinel, in the past few years the selection process both at high schools and colleges have been made gender-neutral.
Photo by Albion Communications Department