Moran: Homecoming Court missing Spartan pride

The Student Activities and Leadership Office failed to choose members sensibly, fracturing the court’s purpose

Homecoming is in full swing on campus, and it is wonderful seeing school spirit for once. So many people have dressed up for Spirit Week and plan to be at the game and the newly minted Tinkerball. The Homecoming Committee has done a great job with this year’s Homecoming festivities, and it gives me a great deal of joy to see the fruits of their hard work all around campus.

However there was one part of the entire ordeal that didn’t quite sit right, which was this year’s Homecoming Court. I was disappointed with those responsible for selecting the court, which seemed primarily ruled by Case Western Reserve University administration.

Don’t get me wrong; the fellow students on the court are great people. The point of this article is not to detract from their individual accomplishments, but to discuss the process by which Homecoming Court was decided.

I believe that the mission to become more inclusive was noble, and as a person of color, I feel that becoming a more inclusive campus is vital to the growth and safety of our wonderful university. However, when I saw the results of the Homecoming Court applications, I was angry.

I was so excited about the switch from King and Queen to a more general Homecoming Royalty in the name of gender inclusivity. This was a change that needed to happen, and a change that was generally well-received on campus, and supported by the staff of The Observer. We appreciate the Homecoming planning committee’s work to break away from long-held traditions in the face of gender binarism.

That was exciting, but what wasn’t exciting was the demographics of the court after building such high expectations of greater diversity. There were only three persons of color on this year’s court and only two males. You cannot call this year’s Homecoming Court inclusive when it doesn’t represent the true student population of CWRU. Why would the deciders of Homecoming Court place such an emphasis on diversity, then choose a court that isn’t too diverse?

Then again, Homecoming was never supposed to be focused solely on diversity. The entire point of Homecoming is school spirit. Those on the Homecoming Court should be representative of the pinnacle of school spirit. You can make an honor inclusive without it revolving around “inclusivity”.

If the Office of Student Activities and Leadership (SAL), the department primarily responsible for selecting the Homecoming Court, removed any semblance of an application or interview process, and left every stage of the selection process in the hands of the students, via multiple rounds of voting, that would have been an appropriate system. If the selected court ended up not being diverse, then that would be on the shoulders of the student body and no one would have the right to complain. However, because it was decided by administration with a motive to diversify the Homecoming Court, the blame unfortunately can be placed.

I absolutely love Homecoming Week, and it is very important to me. As someone raised in football country, and an active member of BlueCWRU, school spirit is something I care about deeply and it hurt to see SAL warp it and change such a good natured popularity contest into something it shouldn’t be.

Instead SAL decided to take this good-spirited activity just a step too far. Individuals were asked on their application to “share an idea of an initiative that promotes a cohesive campus community, celebrates diversity, and/or promotes inclusivity.” While good in theory, what does that have to do with school spirit? Homecoming is about the CWRU community coming together and celebrating Spartan pride, celebrating our love of this campus.

Trying to make Homecoming about something other than school spirit was an iffy decision to start with, and it was a decision that ultimately failed.

We believe that the previous Homecoming Courts were diverse and inclusive without being obnoxious about it. There were six people of color on the Homecoming Court last year, including the senior who won the title of Homecoming King. Last year’s court application had nothing to do with diversity but somehow it still ended up being diverse. That isn’t a coincidence, but rather what happens when you treat Homecoming the way it is supposed to be, like a weeklong celebration of CWRU and Spartan pride. Homecoming shouldn’t be about anything but that.