Augustana students selected Rebecca Ziems and Taha Afzal as their Viking Days royalty last night. But don’t call them queen and king—when we dress ourselves up in the trappings of oppressive monarchy, we will at least be gender-inclusive:
Students voted for ten royalty candidates — regardless of gender — in preliminary voting. Additionally, royalty committee co-chairs Marin Bartman and Jose Cruz Medina said the two crowned court members will be named “royals” or “nobles” instead of the traditional titles.
Viking Days co-chairs Jessica Kratz and Camryn Simmons both said this change was long overdue.
“Breaking tradition is acceptable,” Kratz said. “Just because something has been done for a long time does not mean that it is perfect and that it should be transformed to match modern day standards” [Lyric Oslund, “Viking Days Announces New Gender Inclusive Royalty System,” Augustana Mirror, 2021.09.23].
There’s not just social justice (might the conservative cranks who send their kids to USF cry critical gender theory?) at work here. There’s also plain practicality, proportional representation, and a chance to use the coronation shindig to ennoble members of the college community beyond a couple of comely, vote-getting students:
Women outnumber men on campus, too, so this change could make it more equitable than the past requirement that five young men and five young women be nominated, Simmons noted.
At coronation this year, students didn’t have to pair off in couples, but could instead pick a faculty member, mentor or family member to be their escort up the stage.
“Instead of continuing and perpetuating the coupling system, which is very heteronormative, students can choose who to represent them,” Simmons said. “It’s a positive step in the right direction, and making Augustana a more inclusive place for people of all identities” [Morgan Matzen, “Augustana University Crowns First-Ever ‘Nobles’ in New, Gender-Inclusive Homecoming Coronation,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2021.10.05].
I’ve never been a big fan of homecoming festivities of any sort, as they revolve far too much around the jockocracy that pollutes almost every college campus. But at least this Augie event helps its students learn a new word, heteronormative!