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OPEN LETTER: Human Rights Council and Student Foundation Homecoming Resolution

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By: Human Rights Council and Student Foundation

On December 1, 2020, the Human Rights Council (HRC) published an open letter on The Daily Campus about a gender-neutral Homecoming Royalty policy. Since then, HRC and the Division of Student Affairs leaders have communicated with Student Foundation (SF) about addressing the concerns of HRC and co-signing organizations. During a meeting between HRC’s and SF’s leadership teams earlier this semester, the organizations discussed the issues outlined in the letter and began collaborating to envision the future of Homecoming together. It is HRC and SF’s shared commitment to implementing lasting changes to the Homecoming process that moves us to co-write this open letter with our resolution.

In the December 1st letter, HRC and co-signing organizations stated that they would be “boycotting Homecoming participation until SF institutes and honors a fully gender-neutral Homecoming Royalty policy that:

1. Abolishes all uses of gendered language in the Homecoming process, including the phrases “Homecoming Queen” and “Homecoming King”;

2. Enables all participating organizations to nominate up to two candidates for Homecoming Royalty, regardless of sex or gender identity;

3. Provides all students the opportunity to cast votes for up to two candidates for Homecoming Royalty on a single ballot page that is not separated by sex or gender identity; and

4. Selects winners and runners-up for Homecoming Royalty in a gender-neutral manner.”

HRC and SF want to publicly commit to the four demands listed above with the following changes:

Candidates: Each organization participating in Homecoming will nominate up to two individual candidates, regardless of sex or gender identity. When registering, candidates can choose to be identified as King, Queen, or Royalty. These titles will only be used during the announcement of the two winners at the Homecoming football game. During the competition process, SF will only accept and promote gender-neutral language for the campaigns of participating organizations.

Voting: Voting will be based on a ticket system. One ticket will include any two individuals, regardless of sex or gender identity. Students will vote for one ticket and the title of the ticket will be the name(s) of the organization(s) represented by the two candidates. The implementation of this new voting system will remove any gendered language and create a ballot page that is not separated by sex or gender identity.

Winners: Candidates’ individual scores will be used to determine winners and runners-up in a gender-neutral manner. Two winners and three runners-up will be announced and presented with gifts during halftime of the Homecoming football game. The gifts for these five individuals will be standardized, regardless of sex or gender identity.

While more details regarding the scoring system and activities will be detailed in the Homecoming packet, we want to share our resolution now to encourage more organizations to participate in Homecoming 2021. In particular, we want to provide the groundwork needed to permanently enact a Homecoming process that is truly welcoming of all students. For over 100 years at SMU, Homecoming has existed as the unique experience of celebrating our shared identity as Mustangs. Our leadership teams hope the changes described above can expand the impact of Homecoming and the inclusivity of campus traditions. We recognize the strengthened leadership and constructive social change that is possible when our organizations engage conversations to create enduring, innovative solutions.

Through our efforts, HRC, SF, and our co-signing organizations want to inspire our SMU community and other higher education institutions across the United States to transform Homecoming processes and other long-established campus events. We look forward to upholding our collective responsibility in building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive university through Homecoming 2021 and well beyond.

In solidarity,

Student Foundation at SMU and the Human Rights Council

Co-Signing Organizations (as of May 11th):

Armstrong Commons

Boaz Commons

College Hispanic American Students (CHAS)

Virginia-Snider Commons

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