Coastal Carolina University is bidding farewell to the age-old tradition of homecoming king and queen this year. The Spirit of The Chanticleer Award has taken its place.
Homecoming of 2019 will be the first homecoming week without a royal family. The Coastal Carolina University administration, in collaboration with the student government, has announced the change to the spirit award. Jessica Combess, representing Student Life, spoke on what this change entails and the reason for the change.
“So, traditionally, colleges across the country have had homecoming kings and queens. Over the last few years, colleges across the country -including us- have been investigating having more of a spirit circle or kind of a lead spirit, some type of award for school spirit, getting rid of the gendered king and queen just to be more inclusive to the transgender community and those that are non-binary,” she said.
The initiative for the promotion of inclusivity on campus is but a continuation of various CCU efforts. These accommodations represent a larger cultural issue.
Inclusivity is not the only value wrapped up in this affair. A specific GPA requirement standard is also applied as a metric, certainly to promote educational success.
Combess said, “Truthfully the nomination process was a little more stringent in having a GPA requirement. The GPA requirement is a 3.0, so students that are academically struggling or are on academic probation from the Dean of Student’s office, going through the conduct process, this wasn’t their year, because we wanted to have the individual who was representing the university being the top of the top. Also, a student who is involved and that supports the Chanticleer ideal and what it means to be a Chanticleer here at CCU.”
Previous nominations for homecoming king and queen were limited to those in organizations which participated in homecoming.
“The process used to be groups that were participating in homecoming could nominate their king and queen delegate. Those people would go through an interview process by staff members, and then the finalist would be announced,” Combess said.
As a result, very few students were eligible for nomination. The Spirit of The Chanticleer Award removes this restriction, so now students and members of faculty can nominate any student. Students can even nominate themselves. Nominees are required to submit an application including an essay about their involvement on campus as well as a video documenting what school spirit means to them.
Most students were open to the idea of a more inclusive award system. However, many students took issue with the GPA requirement.
Elijah Donellan said, “As far as inclusivity goes . . . we shouldn’t get rid of king and queen altogether. But we have to change it so it can be inclusive to everybody, especially those that are non-gender binary . . . Maybe make it gender neutral terms like a regent or something like that. But I think trying to get rid of it and replace it with a school spirit award, that should just be something else in and of itself entirely.”
He also shared his view on the new GPA requirement.
“That’s a little unnecessary . . . if it’s supposed to be like replacing the prom king and queen for homecoming, then it just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not about good grades . . . they already have millions upon millions of academic awards for that; Dean’s List, President’s List, all that kind of stuff... That’s not what prom king and queen is about, it’s about having the people – your friends, your peers – say ‘this person deserves to be put here.’”
Donellan was not the only one with this criticism. Rodolfo Croes, a member of the CINO Esports Club, shared his opinion on the matter.
“To me, it’s really a tradition standpoint. . . While it’s an outdated concept, it’s tradition that you would keep it, but at the same time, the Spirit Award would be better because of inclusivity and all that. I’m for it,” he said.
He took a similar stance as Donellan about the GPA requirement.
“I really don’t think that should matter because it’s not about someone’s GPA that determines what a good person is. It’s about their personality, how they associate with people, and what their respect is for someone. It’s not really an academic thing, it’s a respect thing,” he said.
Croes shared how he would like to see inclusivity manifested.
“I would not keep the same titles – I would not call them king and queen . . . I would say like Homecoming Royalty if anything. And the Spirit Award, I wouldn’t call it exactly an award. So, you could say, a recognition . . . as like ‘Yeah, you’re cool. . . you’re . . . a good person, here’s something.’ It should include more than two people, maximum five.”
Not every student took issue with the GPA requirement, however. Kayla Taylor was satisfied with the concept all around.
“I think since Coastal is . . . open-minded about different things, . . . then I mean, yeah sure, why not?... So, if someone doesn’t specify with a particular gender, then yeah,” she said.
The values which the Spirit of The Chanticleer Award promotes are genuinely beneficial values. The problems arise, however, with the additional GPA requirement. The primary issue with the spirit award is its inability to capture the qualities of what students believe to be most important for homecoming king and queen.
The promotion of inclusivity needs more traction. Broadening who can and cannot be nominated is a positive change. Many students expressed dissatisfaction with the removal of Homecoming King and Queen. They expressed the desire to see tradition continuing, but with additional options for students who are non-binary. This is an area in which colleges can create a compromise by introducing a reward that both encourages inclusivity and promotes tradition. The suggestion of terming the awards as for homecoming royalty instead, seem to resolve the issue of binary labels.
Homecoming king and queen is widely considered to not be focused on academic performance. There are many academic achievement awards available to high performing students, but not many individuals are celebrated within the campus community aside from those that excel in athletics and academics. With the rebranding of homecoming king and queen, the focus should be on the personable qualities, extracurricular achievements, and community involvement of students.