Student organizations boycott Homecoming Week
The University of Central Oklahoma’s Diversity Round Table, a student-led organization, released a statement on Instagram Sept. 28, announcing their decision not to participate in any homecoming events.
The organization is calling for changes to make events more inclusive for students and faculty.
The DRT challenged the Homecoming Activities Board to make some adjustments to future homecomings, such as changing the voting system and the pre-nomination process.
According to DRT, one candidate said that votes for the homecoming winner are determined by the amount of money a student raises.
“With a large portion of our students being first-generation or low income, money is not something that can be used for events like this,” DRT stated.
Some of the other changes students in the organization are seeking include broadcasting the opening of the applicants on a wider scale and creating events that will be more inclusive to international students and alumni.
The president of the organization, David Farias, said the decision to boycott homecoming came after the Student Alliance for Equality organization brought it to their attention that the homecoming playbook only contains gender binary pronouns, which excludes students who don’t identify as a male or female.
“Times are changing,” Farias said. “If we want to have students feel included we should have an updated version of these pronouns for them.”
The SAFE organization and the Women’s Research & BGLTQ+ Student Center hosted an online event Sept. 29 to start conversations about non-binary and gender expressive identity on campus.
“I know that if we don’t start these conversations now it’s just going to take a longer process,” Farias said. “That’s why I wanted to start these conversations around homecoming so that we’re not completely blindsided in the future when it becomes a bigger problem.”
SAFE hosted a “not my homecoming” virtual meeting to discuss the exclusive language used in homecoming events. By labeling the royalty members “king” or “queen”, it isolates individuals who identify as non-binary. Meeting discussion participants spoke about neo-pronouns and how campus language has successfully shifted to include non-binary identifying individuals. Students said this was the first time their pronouns were clarified and professors asked all students to clarify their pronouns when classes began.
Some of the candidates on the homecoming royalty court this year represented minority communities on campus. These candidates decided to use their platforms during the week to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion.
“Homecoming is not only for a specific group of people,” said homecoming royalty candidate, Hans Seth Lu. “Homecoming is for every student on this campus so we do agree that homecoming should provide more equitable ways that students with any kind of identity can join together and get represented on the court.”
At this time, the DRT is in the process of setting up a meeting with the homecoming activities board to discuss changes to future homecomings.