Editorial: When it comes to Homecoming, some things never change

By Staff Editorial

Voting for the 2010 Homecoming King and Queen starts online today, so we thought it would be… Voting for the 2010 Homecoming King and Queen starts online today, so we thought it would be appropriate to educate readers on the origins of this time-honored tradition. The following is an excerpt from the March 6, 1931, edition of The Pitt Weekly, the original form of The Pitt News, in which the plans for the first-ever Homecoming election were announced. Enjoy.

The big contest is on!

Throughout the halls of the various buildings in the University today students will vote for the most popular Pitt collegian and coed in the first Weekly Panther Popularity Contest.

Every student on the campus, no matter what his standing may be, is eligible to vote. He will obtain his ballot slip at any of the tables stationed in the various buildings. The student will write the name of one student of the opposite sex who, in his opinion, is the most pouplar. Thus, the men will vote for a coed; the women will vote for a collegian. The ballot reads as follows:

‘On the basis of my own personal reactions to students at the University of Pittsburgh, voting uninfluenced by scholastic achievement, or organization affiliation of that person, I cast one ballot for the student of the opposite sex who is most popular with me. Name———-.’


As to what constitutes popularity is left for the student to decide. It may mean personality, that indefinable ‘it,’ or it may mean, as a professor at Yale has put it, ‘stimulus and response value.’ It may mean that the voter’s choice always has a smile on his face, is optimistic, and always willing to help.


Speculation is rife among the fraternities.

And the sororities.

Hail to the Campus King and Campus Queen of Popularity.

Rarely can such a direct way of discussing the actual goings-on behind Homecoming elections be found these days, so we appreciate that our predecessors could identify it more than three score years ago. As you can see, some campus realities don’t change. In the decades that have elapsed and in the hundreds of thousands of students who have earned Pitt degrees since the initial ballots were cast, today’s Homecoming election essentially remains as it was founded — a popularity contest.

Yes, in recent elections some candidates have used their candidacy to promote community service, but tying Homecoming with charity drives has overall been a halfhearted effort. Unlike years past, there simply are no charity requirements anymore, according to Elaine Lewis, vice president of Traditions for the Blue & Gold Society.

After almost 70 years of giving out crowns and not expecting anything in return, it’s time for a change. If they profess a highly developed sense of Pitt pride, campus Kings and Queens should represent more of what we care about — philanthropy. The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities’ 2009 “Saviors of our Cities” list didn’t rank Pitt in the top-five schools for community service for nothing.

With all of the attention the Homecoming election process vies for and receives from the student body, an unparalleled opportunity exists to improve our surroundings and the quality of life for Pittsburghers in need. A candidate who intends to simply visit a soup kitchen or tour a hospital can’t tap that potential. But there’s still time for current and future candidates to change that.