The Viking Days committee announced via an email to campus that Viking Days royalty will be gender-inclusive this year.
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.”
Kratz and Simmons said this change was initially anticipated for last school year, but with COVID-19, it came to a halt.
Two listening sessions were held for students to voice their opinions on the matter: one in fall 2020 and one in spring 2021.
According to Simmons, few students came to the initial session. For the spring session, the committee changed their approach. One change included sending emails to different affinity groups on campus.
“[The committee was] really intentional with making sure we were advertising it,” Kratz said.
Groups such as the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) were invited to ensure representation at the spring meeting.
GSA co-chair August Brown said that the change was a step in the right direction. However, they also mentioned how they hope that Augiethon, which hosts the male beauty pageant Mr. Augie, will be influenced by this change. Brown said they hope to see different humor instead of comedy based on men crossdressing in swimsuits and dresses.
One faculty member in particular, Kathleen Cook, reached out and thanked the Viking Days committee for making the change.
Final voting for royalty will be open from Sept. 27 to Oct. 2.
Ted Van Alstyne