King, queen titles overthrown during Washington university's homecoming

Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2004

SEATTLE There's no more homecoming king and queen at the University of Washington, just royals, the student group that organizes the annual campus festival has decided.

The pair presented at a pep rally Friday night were Emi Nomura Sumida, 20, of Seattle, and Glorya Cho, 19, of Bainbridge Island, who got the top scores in a scholarship contest that does not take gender into account.

The two women had not met before they were crowned Nov. 1 at a private reception.

"People do get confused when I say 'homecoming royal' and not 'homecoming queen,'" Cho said. "People are still getting the hang of it."

The Associated Students of the University of Washington broke from tradition last year in awarding the two $1,000 scholarships funded by the school's alumni association, but no one noticed because they went to a man and a woman.

"I think it's great the UW has chosen to have a nongender-specific homecoming royalty," Sumida said. "In our day and age, a lot of the traditional definitions of roles are changing, and this follows in line with that.

"Once people realize that this is not just a popularity contest but one based on qualifications, they'll hopefully understand and accept it."

Jenni Backes, the student group's programming director, said there have been some complaints.

"It's challenging," Backes said. "A lot of people want to see a homecoming king and a homecoming queen because that's tradition.

"Yeah, it's kind of odd to have two females as our homecoming royalty, but they are the most deserving students for the award."

On the basis of grade-point average, campus and community activities, career educational goals and honors and awards, 12 finalists for the two scholarships are chosen for interviews by an eight-judge panel, said Trevor Whiton, senior adviser for student activities.

The panel then cuts the number in half, using a point-grading system in which the top two are crowned as "royals" and the rest are members of their court.

In the past, the top man and top woman point-scorers were crowned king and queen.

Washington had homecoming kings and queens for at least 50 years, but the scholarships were added only within the past 10 years, Whiton said.

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