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Pitt’s Alumni Association removed the gendered titles of homecoming king and queen for this October’s homecoming festivities and are instead opting for two gender-inclusive “Spirit of Pitt” winners.
Luke Profy, vice president of traditions for the Blue and Gold Society, said this step will help modernize the homecoming court tradition. The Blue and Gold Society along with the Student Alumni Association and Pitt Alumni Association organize homecoming activities.
“This decision was made to better represent our student body, Pitt community and transition one of our beloved Pitt traditions into the 21st century,” Profy, a senior mathematics and classics major, said.
Nancy Merritt, vice chancellor for alumni relations, said while traditions are valuable — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic — this one was “antiquated.” Pitt’s Stay at Home-Coming will take place the week of Oct. 19 with virtual events, such as a concert and lecture series.
“Traditions are valuable in alumni relations in that they create a shared experience across generations and they also tend to reflect the values of an organization,” Merritt said. “But this concept of homecoming king and queen, I think has become antiquated and was overshadowing what we were actually trying to recognize as part of this process.”
Merritt said there’s other changes to the court as well. While the homecoming court will still include 10 Pitt students, she said the Alumni Association is hoping to get more student participation by removing the requirement that a candidate has to be sponsored by a student organization. Now, any student who gets 10 Pitt students, faculty or staff members to support them can run.
Candidates also must be a full-time junior or senior with at least a 2.5 GPA, complete 10 hours of community service and be a member of the Student Alumni Association. Applications are due Sunday. The two winners will also now receive a $1,500 resource award, which provides money for books, student fees and other college essentials.
Merritt added that she hopes this change will make homecoming court more inclusive and recognize students for their contributions to the Pitt community.
“By taking out binary gender we’re more inclusive,” Merritt said. “It is more apparent that we are recognizing them for what they’re doing as a Pitt student to build Pitt pride and build a community.”