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Homecoming assembly escorts

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Homecoming season has officially arrived. Tickets are on sale and clubs are choosing their nominees for the Homecoming court. Students and teachers alike are working hard to organize the events leading up to the dance – namely, the Homecoming assembly, where nominees from all over campus walk across the gym floor in front of the entire school, arm in arm with an escort from the football team.

About ten years ago, this scene would’ve been a bit different. Instead of members of the football team escorting the nominees, each of the girls had a friend or date of their choosing on their arm to accompany them during the assembly. So what changed?

“[The rule about escorts changed] probably over ten years ago. We had a number of escorts over the years that were ineligible or that wouldn’t show up. We’d have girls without escorts, so we decided to make it easier for everybody to provide the escorts. This way it involves more kids because now we’ve got the football team getting to be a part of the assembly and we know that they’re all eligible because they’re playing on the team. We ran into some problems with eligibility and some girls not running because they couldn’t find a boy to escort them, so we were just trying to make everything easier and more fair for all the girls,” said United Student League director of activities Rebecca Porter.

Although there are good and solid reasons behind using the football team for Homecoming escorts, the solution is unfortunately not a one-size-fits-all. While the intent was to make sure all candidates have escorts, not everyone is comfortable walking arm in arm with someone they don’t know.

“I was a candidate [for Homecoming] my sophomore year and junior year. I didn’t know either of [my escorts]. It wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable. It was kind of awkward though. I would’ve preferred to walk with a friend or by myself,” said senior Maeve Mallet.

Not every student is the same. Some may prefer walking with someone to ease their nerves but others may feel less awkward just walking by themselves or having the option to choose an eligible escort that they know and are more comfortable with.

“It all depends on the person. If they feel comfortable walking with a stranger and that’s just their personality, then they can go ahead. But if they’re awkward walking with someone that they don’t know or someone that’s shorter than them or they just don’t like people in general, then [they shouldn’t have to],” said senior Aliyah Suarez.

Another issue is that escorts can also draw attention away from the nominees. Audience members sometimes cheer for the escorts rather than the nominees, taking the focus away from the candidates and their accomplishments.

“Homecoming is supposed to be about you and what you’ve done for the school and why you’ve been nominated. If you have to walk with an escort then that just defeats the whole point,” said Suarez.

Having the candidates walk in the Homecoming assembly is meant to put the spotlight on their accomplishments and the organizations they’re a part of. If the escorts are taking away from that, then they’re not really serving a purpose.

One of the other problems with escorts in the Homecoming assembly is the assumptions and implications that can come along with having them.

“We’re thinking that when we have an escort, it doesn’t mean that’s your date. I think it started to become that when girls thought they had to find a boyfriend really fast but now the boys provide a really dignified arm for them,” said Porter.

While escorts are clearly not meant to be dates, they do still reinforce pre-existing stereotypes about gender roles. The idea that girls always have to walk with a boy and the boys always have to walk with a girl is quite frankly outdated and can feel alienating to students of other sexualities. Offering a choice to nominees about their escorts can help eliminate this problem and create a more inclusive experience for everyone involved.

Ultimately, the purpose of the Homecoming assembly is to showcase and acknowledge the student candidates. If including the escorts in the assembly is intended to make these candidates more comfortable but failing and if it takes any focus away from the candidates themselves, then the candidates should have a choice in whether or not they want to walk with an escort and if possible, a choice in who that escort is.


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