T. Kinkley, Red & Black Campus Art and Culture Writer
Jas Dey (left) and Kyran Mitchell (right) pose at the Homecoming Football game after winning the Homecoming Presidents title. (Photo Courtesy W&J College)
Homecoming is a huge event on Washington & Jefferson College’s campus. Not only does it provide a reason for alumni to come back to the campus, but it also provides the first voting opportunity of the year, a chance for current students to network with the alumni. Many organizations and Greek life houses hosted events for alumni to attend and chat with other alumni and current students. Over the two-day period, there were thirty-six events, not including campus tours and registration. One of the major events that take place during Homecoming is the homecoming football game. This year, W&J’s football team went against Allegany College. Washington & Jefferson won 66-14.
Along with the football game, we got to see the recognition of the homecoming court at halftime. An important part of W&J’s homecoming tradition is the election of the homecoming court and the announcement of the winning pair. Each year, the student body elects seniors who have contributed to the college and its campus over their years at W&J. The race for homecoming Presidents begins with an offer to all members of the senior class to petition for the court. Students pick another senior to make their pair and petition by getting the signatures of 20 other students. The first election allows students to vote for the five pairs that are put onto the homecoming court. The top five pairs are then put into a vote only days before homecoming weekend, allowing each student to choose one pair they would like to be their homecoming President. During halftime, each member of the court is introduced by name, area(s) of study, campus involvement and their plans for the future. After each nominated student is introduced, they announce the homecoming Presidents for the year and present them with sashes and plaques that commemorate their win.
This year’s homecoming court were the following senior student pairs: Jasmine Dey and Kyran Mitchell, Ava Smith and Lucas Watson, Angelo Fratini and Grace DePaul, Neil Pandit and Julia Hurwitz and Jordan Bernard and Isabella Manzari. Jasmine Dey and Kyran Mitchell were the winners of the vote.
I got to speak with Jasmine Dey a few weeks ago and they are extremely involved at W&J. Amongst other involvement on campus, Dey currently holds the positions of president of the Black Student Union, class representative of the Student Government Association, a community lead for the Office of Belonging and Engagement and the resident assistant for Progress House, a new residential learning community here on campus. Additionally, they helped create the change from homecoming king/queen to homecoming Presidents in the fall of 2021 with the 2021-22 Student Government Association's general assembly.
When asked their thoughts on the school’s introduction of the homecoming Presidents over traditional titles like king and queen that most colleges use, they noted the change as a positive step of inclusivity. “The change eliminates the expectations gendered terms like "king" and "queen" usually come with and allows for a more gender diverse group of people to run for the court in addition to boosting school spirit by calling us the “Presidents.” I can say with certainty that if the old model for the homecoming court still existed, I would not have run, so I am happy about the change!”
The change that W&J has made has not only created more inclusivity for all genders, but the change also promotes school spirit, and aligns with the idea of people running as individuals being changed to running as pairs. The change creates an inclusive space for those who do not identify in a gender binary, or if someone would rather run as a pair that are of the same gender. It makes more pairs eligible for the running, including sorority sisters or frat brothers that would like to run together, teammates, best friends, siblings, etcetera. It opens the ground for people to run with people they are most comfortable with.
" I can say with certainty that if the old model for the homecoming court still existed, I would not have run, so I am happy about the change!” - Jas Dey
I did not get a chance to speak with Kyran Mitchell, as he is also a very busy person on campus. Mitchell is a double major completing both of his capstones, as well as a player on our basketball team at W&J. He is involved in many other campus extracurricular activities, which only adds to his busy schedule.
It is not lost on me that our win as a pair signifies a great deal of progress. I will say however, that the lack of recognition of both Kyran and I, as well as the rest of the court via the school paper, the Weekly, and MyW&J, has been disappointing.” - Jas Dey