Homecoming court selection shows Tulane pride

Ella Helmuth, Associate News Editor

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The weather has loosened its clammy grip on Tulane, midterms are over and as the lights shining on Monday from McAlister Auditorium night signified, it is once again homecoming time. 

Tulane kicked off homecoming week with the Lighting of McAlister, an annual tradition at which the year’s new homecoming court is announced. Five men and five women became “Tulane royalty,” but how did they get there?

There is a thorough process behind the selection of the homecoming court each year, which begins with the nomination of candidates. Patch Rawanghet, this year’s homecoming court chair on the Tidal Wave committee, said that the opportunity to nominate seniors is open to everyone.

“Everything is on OrgSync, anyone can nominate anyone,” Rawanghet said. “If you are nominating someone you go on the application and fill in their name, their contact information and then a blurb about why this person should be on homecoming court.”

After the nominations are received, candidates who choose to fill out applications are considered anonymously by the Tidal Wave committee, which plans and facilitates all of the homecoming events.

The committee narrows down the applicants to twenty men and twenty women. Then begins the interview round, the most intense part of the process for candidates. 

“Interviews are held by three judges: one staff, one faculty and one unaffiliated freshman.” said Rawanghet.

Candidates are asked questions that encourage them to answer creatively and show their dedication to Tulane.

Margaret Stolte, former Tidal Wave committee president and 2016 court member, said judges’ questions tend to center around each candidate’s personal Tulane experience, with some Tulane trivia mixed in.

“They ask questions like ‘who on Tulane’s campus have impacted you the most?'” Stolte said. ” … I was asked to name any of the five teams Tulane has played in football this year.”

The Tidal Wave committee and its judges said they work to maintain propriety when making decisions that affect students’ selection. Court member and senior Jakob Cohen said he appreciated the emphasis on fairness during the selection process.

“The court selection process is intense, but clearly aimed at making it fair for everyone,” Cohen said. “I appreciate that all voices: students, faculty and staff are heard at different steps of the process to make sure that the court members are the people they want representing Tulane.”
 
The judges deliberate amongst themselves and narrow the pool of committee selected students down to ten men and ten women, who are then put on the ballot which students submit to vote for court members.

These finalists are selected to represent the best of the student body who voted for them.

“And those ten people, and all the people who tried to run for homecoming, they truly care about Tulane,” Rawanghet said.

The male and female student who win the popular vote for their gender are the homecoming king and queen and the four candidates of each gender who receive the next highest number of votes make up the court.

Many people may see homecoming elections as a popularity contest, but the court members and the homecoming chair shared how meaningful the tradition can truly be for everyone involved. Rawanghet said she loves her position because of how personally she gets to know the applicants and how invested they are in the Tulane community. Rawanghet said the dedication to Tulane shown by applicants during the process reinvigorates her personal commitment to Tulane.

“Sometimes you forget that this is not only a school, it’s your home, it’s the place you choose to be,” Rawanghet said. “I fall in love with Tulane again because of them.”

Court member and senior Mike Mahoney said he found that the process broadened his Tulane horizons.

“I met a lot of people that work in a wide variety of places at Tulane, who I had not met and would not have met if I had not gone through the application process,” Mahoney said.

Other students see the selection as a court member as a reflection of all that they have invested in Tulane. Past court member Emma Discher enjoyed seeing the mark she made on the Tulane community.

“I’d like to think of it as people recognizing what I’ve done at Tulane,” Discher said. “It showed me that I’ve had an impact on people’s lives.”

While the homecoming court members were announced on Monday, the king and queen will be announced at Saturday’s homecoming football game against Southern Methodist University.