OPINION | Homecoming court: constructive or cliché?

Lily Mae Lazarus, Views Editor

Homecoming Royalty: Is it just a popularity contest? (Emma Schnieder)

The concept of homecoming royalty seems juvenile and in many ways superficial. By pitting members of the community together in what appears to be a collegiate popularity contest, the elected student “royalty” seems to rise to an upper echelon of social status. In an institution that promotes the honing of one’s intellect, it appears counterintuitive to participate in pageantry. However, during such unprecedented times, this year’s homecoming court provides students with a sense of normalcy that has been lost since the coronavirus pandemic. 

This time-honored tradition’s purpose is lost upon some of the Tulane University student body including myself. I recognize my own bias in this situation when admitting I did not have homecoming or prom royalty in high school. My own opinion has been molded by years of pop culture, “Mean Girls,” and every other high school romantic comedy ever made which depicted the “popular” kids as victors of school pageants. While these stereotypes do not exist on such a scale at Tulane, the practice of voting for some type of class royalty resonates with an image of elitist ideology that I never found productive to the self-image of my peers.

That being said, homecoming is the epitome of Americana, embellished with good ole American football, marching bands, and school spirit. For many American adolescents, holding the title of homecoming king or queen is a priority in high school. It is an honor to be chosen by one’s peers as a leading member of the community. Yet, in college, this practice seems a bit far fetched.

With Tulane having 7,207 undergraduate students, it is unrealistic to expect the vast majority of the student body to vote for homecoming court representatives or even know someone on the ballot. In high school, however, where the average school size is 526 students, this practice is more feasible. 

That being said, the students that do decide to vote for Tulane homecoming royalty are probably more than likely to know a candidate. Meaning, the most popular candidates, the people with more friends willing to vote on their behalves, are the likely victors of such a title. Consequently, they may not truly represent the student body and its values. Nevertheless, the process of being nominated for homecoming court and the election does foster an odd togetherness. 

Any other year, homecoming court would seem frivolous, but this year, it is necessary. After being separated from New Orleans for over six months, Tulane students itched to get back to the place they call home and rebuild the community they were forced to leave. After enduring difficulties with adapting to vast changes in the learning environment, the student body needs camaraderie. 

While the “rah-rah” pep is not Tulane students’ brand, as many students prefer to tailgate than attend actual football games, homecoming weekend is always a highlight of the year. Freshmen get to drag their excited parents to The Boot Bar and Grill for the first time, show them their decked-out dorm rooms and potentially introduce them to some young romance they met during orientation. This year, the new students will miss out on such an opportunity. 

This year, homecoming will take place via online and socially distanced events, homecoming court being the last standing unchanged tradition. This normalcy is a luxury for the community and embodies the life we would all like to return to. Continuing this one tradition may even inspire new students to do good in the community and leave a lasting impact so that they too can be nominated and elected. 

Yes, homecoming court is still in many ways a popularity contest. But, at a school where many students do not know the lyrics to the Alma Mater, it might just be what they need to have a little school spirit. Serving as a member of homecoming royalty is the ultimate symbol of dedication to school pride. In a time where that is overwhelmingly lacking, crowning Tulane royalty may have the power to rebuild the energy that made us fall in love with the campus in the first place.