Saturday, February 03, 2001

NKU homecoming king needn't be he

Protester wins point on campus

By Scott Wartman
Enquirer Contributor

        HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — When NKU crowns its homecoming queen tonight, she won't be standing next to King Theresa — but there's always next year.

        Theresa Geisen, a senior marketing major at Northern Kentucky University, entered the school's homecoming elections this year — as a king candidate.

        After votes were tallied, she didn't make the top five finalists, but she did change the application form and turn some heads.

        Ms. Geisen, who founded Feminists at Northern at NKU and is an officer with Common Ground, said she decided to run for homecoming king when she saw the application asked her age and sex, which she thought was unfair and irrelevant to the election.

        To protest, Ms. Geisen, who declines to give her age, but calls herself a “nontraditional student,” marked her application “N/A” next to the questions denoting age and sex.

        The school's rules to run for homecoming king do not explicitly state the student has to be male. NKU's administration didn't try to prevent her from running for king because to do so would be discrimination on the basis of gender.

        Dean of Students Kent Kelso said the idea of a woman running for homecoming king surprised him. “My first

        thoughts were, "Are you sure you want to do it?'” Mr. Kelso said. “I was intrigued by the idea.”

        Ms. Geisen's attempt, she said, was not in vain, because NKU's Office of Student Life announced the application for next year's homecoming will not ask for age and sex.

        Mr. Kelso said he sided with Ms. Geisen that the ballot made unfair assumptions and a woman should be able to run as king. Mr. Kelso, however, said he doesn't feel the queen is inferior to the king in status.

        Ms. Geisen said the assumption of male superiority has a long tradition. “The fact is that throughout history, kings are who usually rule the country,” Ms. Geisen said.

        Tiffany Mayse, the student programming coordinator, said Ms. Geisen's complaints are valid and the ballot will be changed next year.

        “I think it made more people come out and voice their opinion and got more people to vote,” Ms. Mayse said.

        Last year's homecoming queen, Kara Clark, also agreed with Ms. Geisen's grievances with the homecoming application. “I think it's positive that the process will be changed,” Ms. Clark said. “I think it is inappropriate to ask for age and sex.”

        Ms. Geisen said getting the application changed was her main goal, and having accomplished this, she is not disappointed in losing the election. “I did make my point,” Ms. Geisen said. “I have people thinking about gender equality.”

        Some NKU students, including freshman Jamie Lohbeck, don't think she should be able to run for king.

        “I think she is just looking for attention,” Lohbeck said.

        Others, like sophomore Starr Griggs, said she should be able to do what she wants. “Whatever floats her boat,” Ms. Griggs said. “It would be fine for a man to run for queen as well.”

        Several of the homecoming king and queen candidates declined comment for fear of hindering their chances of being elected.

        Ms. Geisen said she is not trying to bring attention to herself or abolish homecoming. Ms. Geisen said she just wants homecoming to be reformed.

        Another change Ms. Geisen advocates: instead of using the term homecoming king or queen, a term like the homecoming royals should be used.

        Because homecoming king and queen are honorary titles, there shouldn't be categories that separate the genders, said Dr. Janice Oaks of the University of Kentucky's women's studies and English programs. “You shouldn't assume that a women would want to run for queen,” Dr. Oaks said. “They might want to run for king and break down the gender boundaries.”


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