Northwestern students to vote for ‘Homecoming Wildcat’ instead of king, queen


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

The 2015 Homecoming court parades down Sheridan Road. This year, students will elect one Homecoming Wildcat from a court of 12 people.

Alan Perez, Reporter

Northwestern students will elect a “Homecoming Wildcat” this year in an effort to make the festivities more inclusive, Homecoming committee co-chair Emine Yücel said.

The Homecoming Wildcat will replace a traditional Homecoming King and Queen as this year’s Homecoming court leader, Yücel said. The court, selected by the committee, is no longer required to consist of six men and six women.

Yücel, a Weinberg senior, said the committee changed its practices after students from last year’s court expressed concerns about the gendered process. She added that this year, the Homecoming Wildcat will have a choice between multiple headwear options: a crown, tiara or a “non-gendered” option.

“We took it very seriously because we believe in being able to express yourself the way you want to,” Yücel said. “We also supported the recommendation, and we believe it aligns with the current student attitude and cultural trend.”

Kody Keckler (Communication ’17), a member of last year’s Homecoming court, said he wanted to reform the court because the process was “heteronormative” and did not “accurately reflect all of the people who go to Northwestern.”

He said he met with the committee last year to suggest changes, adding they were “very supportive.”

“The general feeling was this is probably something that should’ve happened a while ago,” Keckler said. “(The Homecoming Wildcat) removes gender and sexuality from being a barrier for someone to be part of the Homecoming court.”

Gavin Leighton O’Duane Williams, a member of this year’s Homecoming court, said the committee informed him of the changes during his interview in the spring.

The Weinberg senior said he supported the switch to a Homecoming Wildcat, calling it a “right step forward.”

“It’s just to be more inclusive of gender and not enforce such strict gender norms,” he said. “(Crowning kings and queens) is definitely an outdated tradition.”

After speaking with students, faculty and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Yücel said the committee decided that students will vote for only one winner.

Selecting one Homecoming Wildcat will achieve the committee’s goal of “taking gender completely out of the question,” she said.

Voting begins Monday and will end four days later, Yücel said. The Homecoming Wildcat will be announced Oct. 6, a day before Homecoming.

“It just makes more sense to take 12 royalty who represent this school and what it means to be a Wildcat and pick one to be the winner,” Yücel said. “This community is very inclusive and everyone I talk to is reacting very positively. It’s the right path for us to take right now.”

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