Homecoming Adds Inclusive Language

Mixed gender organizations are now included in the University of Central Oklahoma’s 2018 Homecoming Playbook for the dodgeball and tug of war tournaments in order to be more inclusive.

The playbook change was initiated about two years ago by concerns raised from UCO’s Student Alliance For Equality and Diversity Round Table.

This process was started by SAFE’s 2016 president Gabi Glidewell, last year’s SAFE president Rachel Watson and current DRT president Jordan Broiles.

“We noticed a lot of our members come from a variety of different gender identities and expressions; not all of our members are defined in binary terms as male or female,” said David Macey, SAFE faculty advisor and assistant vice president for Global and Cultural Competencies.

In previous years, the homecoming playbook divided players up during certain homecoming events into female, male and co-ed organizations. The playbook still has male and female organizations, but instead of co-ed there are mixed gender organizations.

“It seemed like a lot of activities at homecoming divided people up into teams of men and women, and that didn’t leave an opening or a place for some of our members who wanted to be involved,” Macey said.

The playbook now states that mixed gender organizations will only compete against other mixed gender organizations. It also states that mixed gender organizations need to be diverse in gender identification, but that there needs to be two identified females in the mixed gender organization.

Now campus organizations who want to participate in homecoming events do not have to make teams of females and males only, instead they can also have mixed gender teams.

“[The change] is important because homecoming is designed for UCO students to be able to have pride in their institution, to be able to celebrate the essence of the institution and it needs to be done in such a way that all students see themselves reflected in the university culture,” said MeShawn Conley, director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and DRT faculty advisor.

Macey said this process included a series of meetings with the Homecoming Activities Board and Campus Activities to present some of SAFE and DRT’s concerns, and they also raised a series of recommendations that were adopted this year.

SAFE and DRT did research prior to these meetings to see what other universities have done in regards to gender and gender position descriptions at homecoming events.

“We are very excited, supportive and grateful for everyone in SAFE and DRT who worked on [the playbook change process],” Macey said. “This year we’re just excited to be involved in a more inclusive and gender welcoming homecoming celebration.”

Broiles said the change for the playbook had gone into effect the week before last year’s homecoming, but the wording was changed sometime last May for this year’s homecoming.

Even though the wording was going to be changed, Broiles said, SAFE and DRT chose to sit out on certain events that had the female and male only language at last year’s homecoming to take the moment to educate campus.

“I think in this opportunity I have learned, my executive board and also the UCO community have learned, that we need to become more inclusive,” Broiles said. “Yes we are diverse, but there are layers to it…[we need to] continue to challenge the societal norm and to try to make it more inclusive for everyone.”

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