Homecoming isn’t just about king and queen anymore

UW-Eau Claire switches to neutral royalty title for homecoming candidates

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling

Every year, student organizations nominate a participant in their group to represent them in one of the most remembered weeks of the academic year: Homecoming.

“I’ve made the best memories of my college career this week,” Senior Pete Winslow said.

This year, homecoming is a little different than previous years. Instead of having a king and queen, students elect royalty, making an opportunity for two males or two females to be chosen. Jesse BaDour, a co-leader on the Homecoming committee said this change is to make more student organizations feel more involved.

“Many people think this change is only because of LGBTQ. That’s completely false,” BaDour said. “The change is an effort to make homecoming more inclusive towards organizations.”

Last year, Aaron White and Sarah Steffen were crowned representing two choral groups on campus; The Singing Statesmen and Women’s Concert Chorale, and have since graduated from UW-Eau Claire.

“I think this change is excellent,” White said. “It’s a great step in the right direction.”

Steffen said they have been discussing this change for many years and it would have been nice to see the homecoming committee change it earlier, but it is good they did it now.

This year, Rachel Iaquinta and Pete Winslow were selected to represent Eau Claire as royalty. Reflecting on their experiences, they said the week was great.

“I am really excited,” Iaquinta said. “It brought a lot of light to the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH).”

Iaquinta has lived in Oak Ridge Hall for four years, and has been a Resident Assistant for three of them. She said living in the dorms has changed her life and she can see it changing the lives of her residents.

“Our university has taken a step toward fostering a more inclusive environment,” she said. “My gender identity should not have to define my self-worth or capabilities as an individual.”

“I think that this change impacts our university positively because future Homecoming candidates do not have to be put into a box of what society thinks they should be,” Iaquinta said. “With Homecoming, I think this change is much more inclusive for everyone who may consider running.”

Winslow is majoring in journalism and was crowned on behalf of TV-10. He said he understands both sides of the debate. However, he feels that the organizations are closer because of Homecoming.

“I didn’t look at homecoming any differently. There are still candidates, activities and I still got to do all the same stuff,” Winslow said. “The change tries to include other organizations and strengthen bonds between people in order to foster a cooperative environment between organizations.”

Iaquinta said this change falls right in line with the university’s mission statement. She said we are more of an inclusive community, which challenges students to develop their intellectual, personal, cultural and social competencies and hopes this continues.