Homecoming voting needs change


Keystone Photo (1944)

The first homecoming queen featured in the Harrisburg Keystone is from 1944, Carla Cummins.

Ellie Rann, Staff Writer

Homecoming is one of, if not the most, exciting time of the school year. We have the parade, the bonfire, spirit week, and the football game, some of the most fun and memorable moments of our last four years. Part of these events is the voting for attendants, a queen, and Mr. Bulldog. For some, this is a wonderful tradition. But for others, it ruins the spirit of Homecoming. Are these votes truly about who deserves the position or is it simply a popularity contest? How can this tradition affect how students view themselves? And what could be done to improve the current system?

The Homecoming dance has been around since the early 1900’s, and Homecoming court has been around since the 1920’s. Over the last 100 years, the way voting ballots are designed has changed. Nowadays, the voting ballots encourage students to vote based on popularity. We are given a blank sheet and are asked to write the names of three girls who should be considered as an attendant. For seniors, this also means identifying the group of girls from whom the queen will be chosen. There are those who say the current system is fine. That it really doesn’t matter who is elected as an attendant, the queen or even Mr. Bulldog for that matter. Of course, most will write the first three names that come to mind. This means the only trait taken into consideration is popularity, rather than the quality of someone’s character. Using this voting method, we can assume the person with the most friends will win the vote. If someone wants to be the winner, they have to be popular among their class or their name has to be. This also means the students who are more introverted may not have a chance of winning only because their names would not be thought of as quickly. This causes a disadvantage for what could be the most deserving group of students. 

Another problem that can be seen with voting for Homecoming court is sometimes students will nominate others as a joke. Students will nominate someone as a prank knowing they will not win because they are not as popular as the others. This is a form of bullying and could make the candidate realize they were only chosen as a mean prank. This could lead to low self-esteem.

Instead of students voting for the most popular in each grade, voting should be based on achievement, character, and those who go above and beyond in sports, academics, or the arts. A possible restructure of the current voting process would be for teachers in the school to create a list of deserving individuals which would be based on a certain set of prerequisites such as a required grade-point average, participation in a certain number of co-curricular activities and an overall good record of respecting teachers. This system would both help to ensure the most deserving people are selected to represent the school, and it would incentivize people to work harder in classes and be better people so that they can qualify for the high honor of representing their school as the Homecoming Queen and Mr. Bulldog. Another possible fix to the current system would be to add a description of the candidates beside their name– what extra-curriculars they participate in as well as a brief sentence written by the nominees on why they feel they should be chosen to represent their peers. This would encourage students to vote for the most deserving candidate and would put less focus away on popularity. 

There are different ways students choose to let the idea of a king and queen affect them. Some students simply see Homecoming voting as a tradition and nothing more. Others see it as a social acceptance and want to be chosen. A good thing about a revised system is that those who are chosen feel confident about themselves and accepted by their peers. This may encourage students in their life going forward. 

Many people have expressed their concerns with the current voting system and even if reform isn’t the answer now, it should at least be taken into consideration that there are existing flaws that can affect people in different ways.  Many wise people have said that in the grand scheme of life, being on Homecoming court isn’t crucial to a person’s success; however, as so many systems in the world outside of school are flawed, it only makes sense that the systems within such a controlled world as high school should be as flawless as possible in order to set a good example for students to live by when they are inevitably released to lead our society in the future.