WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A long-standing homecoming tradition at Purdue University is changing in favor of "inclusivity." Purdue is scrapping the homecoming king and queen title and moving to a gender-neutral court.
In the past, the top male and female candidates, as selected by students and a formal interview process, were crowned king and queen. Now, the university will acknowledge the top two candidates, regardless of gender, as "homecoming royalty."
"I think it's awesome for Purdue to say that even though it's been a tradition, we don't need to do this anymore," said Maci Tetrick, a 2018 homecoming court candidate. "We don't need to do this just because we have done it in the past and because everyone else does it. We are going to do it differently because it is the right thing to do."
The Purdue Student Union Board organizes and hosts the annual homecoming celebration. John Brock is the head of the spirit and traditions committee. He said this decision was student driven.
"We very much wanted to try to keep up with the times and try to make things as inclusive as possible," said Brock.
Ten candidates have been selected for the 2018 court. In the past, there have been an even number of king and queen candidates. This year, there are eight females and two males.
"Really just getting people to apply for homecoming royalty court has just been a struggle," said Brock when asked why the inconsistency this year. "Even though we had more than two male applicants, the others we had we decided not to go with just because these female candidates had better resumes, did better things on campus and we felt like they represented campus better."
We asked Brock if he thinks this would cause unnecessary controversy. He said the student union board is expecting backlash.
"We think it will cause a lot of push back, especially with Purdue and Indiana being more of a conservative state," said Brock. "But it is something we are willingly ready to take on and deal with."
Purdue is not the first university to eliminate the titles. Penn State University announced it was transitioning to a gender-neutral homecoming court in April.
Purdue will host Boston College for the annual homecoming football game on September 22. Homecoming 2018 also marks the kickoff of Purdue's 150th anniversary celebration.
"In celebration of inclusivity and diversity, Purdue University’s Homecoming Court and Royalty has moved to a gender-neutral court transitioning away from the long-standing practice of crowning a king and queen. These ten candidates were selected by student-involved faculty and staff members of the Purdue community, who embody the values we hold true as Boilermakers, regardless of gender. In years past, the top two candidates, as selected by their peers and formal interview process, were crowned as “King & Queen” before the Homecoming Football Game. Moving forward, we will acknowledge the top two candidates as Homecoming Royalty award winners during the Homecoming Football Game on September 22. The Homecoming Court and Royalty process is hosted by the Purdue Student Union Board Spirit & Traditions committee with support from various campus partners." - Angelica McLean, Program Advisor Purdue Memorial Union