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Humans, not squirrels, compose Homecoming court

By Anita Alem     11/12/14 8:00am

Rice Homecoming broke tradition this year in choosing students as the newly crowned Homecoming King and Queen. Hanszen College senior Chris Chu and Sid Richardson College senior Morgan McNeel were crowned at the football game on Saturday.

The student body nominated the Homecoming Court on Oct. 30, and the final list consisted of four male and four female students. Traditionally, nominees have been various random objects, animals or faculty members. 

According to the centennial timeline, Rice students first began nominating unconventionally candidates for the Homecoming Court in the 1940s. 

A few of the nominated individuals were masters’ spouses and children, a cat, an iguana, a car and a former Texas governor. 

In 2011, Saint Arnold Centenni-Ale was crowned Homecoming King, while in 2008, Hurrican Ike took the honors. 

More recently in 2013, Bucky and Bushy the squirrels were placed on the ballot following an active Facebook campaign. Bushy ultimately won the title of Homecoming Queen.

Melissa Cespedes, Chair of the Homecoming Committee and a Homecoming Court nominee, said she has been working with students and faculty to establish Homecoming as a Rice tradition. 

Cespedes, a Wiess College junior, said she thinks students enjoy having a voice in nominating the Homecoming Court instead of treating the tradition humorously.

“Putting the face of actual students, instead of objects or faculty, can make an impact in establishing Homecoming as a tradition at Rice,” Cespedes said. “Since students have friends actually participating in the Homecoming Court, I think the election will allow them to be more notified of what is happening around campus and will encourage more participation in the Homecoming events.”

Sid Richardson Senior Michael Gwede was nominated for Homecoming Court but said he prefers the old tradition of choosing silly objects or animals.

“I think that type of lightheartedness is what makes Rice a fun place to go to school,” Gwede said. “Luckily all of the nominees took a lighthearted approach to the competition, so it was still a fun experience. However, I could see this change resulting in more serious Homecoming King/Queen races in the future, which would be pretty lame in my opinion.”

Brown College junior Ibrahim Akbar, who was nominated for Homecoming Court last year as well as this year, said he thinks the Homecoming Court has always been a fun tradition. 

“It’s a running joke for my friends — I didn’t campaign or anything but I had lovely friends who found embarrassing pictures of me and made memes that they would spread on Facebook,” Akbar said. “I grew up overseas — personally I think Homecoming Court is a funny tradition; nominating animals seems to make fun of something that other schools take too seriously.”

Duncan College President and Homeocoming Queen nominee Mary Anderson said even with this year’s switch to actual student nominees, the competition was purely in the spirit of fun and nominees had a carefree attitude, which separates homecoming from other schools’.

“At other universities, there [are] interviews, pageants, etc. and [are] overall extremely more stressful,” Anderson said. “I’d say that the process this year is still unconventional since we don’t take Homecoming King/Queen too seriously.”

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