By Nicoletta Pappas
Winning homecoming royalty comes with the right to a real diamond crown and bragging rights. This year, five women and men battled for the title, appearing at the daily festivities leading up to the coronation to spread their name around campus. The stereotype that runs with any type of election is that the winner must be the most “popular” candidate. But this stereotype is inaccurate. Most UT students don’t know or care about homecoming, ignoring all the work that goes into running, campaigning and preparing. School spirit on campus is lacking, and students should take more pride in students spending time during their busy lives to represent this school.
In my high school, the eligibility to run for homecoming king and queen was done by simply raising your hand at general assembly. No application process, no campaigning. Here, this is far from the case. One must apply and be accepted to be apart of the homecoming court, not simply randomly decide to run. The “Royalty Packet” application is run by Student Productions and requires senior students to bypass a number of qualifying requirements. This process deters any “popular” student from running. They must have a 2.75 GPA, answer essay questions and even sign up for an interview. Applicants must prove themselves as a dedicated UT student by attending all homecoming events and programs throughout the week. This is no easy application that one can fill out in five minutes, hoping they will win because everyone on campus thinks “they’re cool.”
Almost all of the applicants this year are part of multiple organizations on campus. They may be well known within their organizations, but the majority of unaffiliated UT students would have no idea who they were. They also seem not to care who they are, considering only 1,150 votes were cast. These votes came from a student body of about 7,000. Applicants had to market themselves to the entirety of the UT community, specifically targeting students they don’t know, but they could only target so many. Targeting students by sending out global emails or using face-to-face interactions to explain their platform only convinced about one seventh of the school to vote. This could be due to the laborious process of signing into OrgSync and selecting the correct link. No one wants to go out of their busy lives to vote for a person they don’t know.
Senior candidate Jordan Fink walked around with iPads, telling students her platform and asking them to vote for her. Her direct approach could have yielded her the victory had she done that every day of voting.
The root of the problem is that many seem disinterested about who homecoming queen or king is, nor do they care about homecoming in general. “I have never been to one homecoming game or event the three years I have attended UT,” says Junior Amelia Hershede. Others, like Junior Scotty Hilliard, claim that they have no idea who any of the names are and just pick the coolest name on the list. This small sample of students interviewed provides shows that a lot of work is going into something that yields little results. Interest arises when students are directly engaged and feel invested or pride in the cause they are voting for. That’s what determines winners. Those who are less interested in the cause they are voting for are less likely to take time out of their day to vote, says a study by the Pew Research Center. Popularity aside, the more interest Homecoming receives, the better chance a candidate has of winning.
Our growing student body should take the time to attend homecoming events and show more support to our seniors. Candidates work hard to compete against others and prove themselves as the most worthy. We are not in high school anymore. The UT community is so large that it is not possible for one student to know everyone. They have to work hard to get to know everyone and convince them to log into OrgSync and vote. Maybe OrgSync is to blame. If we didn’t have to keep changing our spartan password and forgetting it, maybe more of us would have voted.