Homecoming court goes gender-neutral

by Maria Del Carmen Huerta, Staff Writer

San Diego State will not recognize a homecoming king or queen this year. Instead, the honorees will be referred to as “royals,” a gender-neutral term.

During the application process, candidates were allowed to select gender-neutral pronouns to identify themselves.

These gender-inclusive pronouns aim to dispel the common gender binary of categorizing people as solely masculine or feminine.

“I think homecoming is a great setting to have meaningful conversations and understanding about gender equality and ensure events on campus are welcoming and inclusive for all students,” said Christy Nierva Quiogue, director of the Center for Intercultural Relations.

Nierva Quiogue said SDSU takes pride in creating a welcoming and educational environment that provides learning opportunities to increase students’ awareness of campus diversity and inclusion.

SDSU has provided resources to inform, educate and empower its students to embrace diversity and inclusion with events such as the One SDSU Community Receptions.

This event brings together people from different communities to discuss the similarities that allow them to find common ground.

Nierva Quiogue said the change in homecoming’s protocol is another example of raising awareness while also recognizing Aztecs’ achievements.

Gender neutrality in the homecoming application is a step in the right direction, SDSU Women’s Resource Center Coordinator Jessica Nare said.

“We are lucky to be on a campus that is really diverse, and so I think having systems in place that reflect the students on campus is a really positive thing,” Nare said. “The reality is we don’t live in a gender-binary system and so really recognizing that in a public way is really important and exciting.”

She said the gender-neutral option is another step toward creating safe and brave spaces on campus where everyone will feel welcome.

This progressive shift can be seen on other campuses across the nation, including Harvard University and University of Vermont, where gender-neutral pronouns are offered in the general admission process.

Out of all the submitted Homecoming Court applications, only 10 students were selected as part of the 2015 Homecoming Court.

Each honoree was chosen by a committee of SDSU faculty, including Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Patricia Lozada-Santone and Dean of Students Randy Timm.

At this year’s Homecoming Court announcement party, finalists were announced while the SDSU Marching Aztecs and Color Guard performed at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.

The 2015 Homecoming Court honorees are advertising major Andrea Byrd, political science major Brenna Culliton, kinesiology major Brian Levett, interdisciplinary studies major Dezmon Monroe Robinson, finance major Emmanuel Uwakwe, health science major Jennifer Reyes, English and psychology major Angela Risi, English and speech, language and hearing sciences major Samantha Olivas, psychology major Keaujahn’e Polk and psychology major Shaan McGhie.

“It feels amazing just to have so many supporters and to be able to represent the student body as a leader,” Reyes said.

The 2015 homecoming game, themed the “San Diego State of Mind,” takes place on Nov. 14. at Qualcomm Stadium, where the Aztec football team will play the University of Wyoming Cowbows.

The game is free for students who get a ticket in advance and show their Red ID at the stadium.