Student activist says fraternities, sororities banded together to defeat initiative at Denton university
DENTON — Students at University of North Texas — where students run for homecoming king and queen as couples — voted against allowing a gay or lesbian couple from running for homecoming court.
The vote is binding through next fall’s homecoming but the issue can then be brought up for a vote again. Only 13 percent of the student body voted, with 2,059 in favor of the measure and 2,836 against. UNT has an enrollment of more than 36,000 students.
"So we’re not going to have equality when it comes to homecoming," said campus organizer Elizabeth Pax, summing up the vote.
She said that the real issue was equal access to campus activities funded by student activity fees. But still, Pax put the best face on the outcome.
She said, "A gay can run. A lesbian can run. At least it’s not if you’re gay, you can’t run."
But a gay or lesbian who wanted to be homecoming king or queen would have to find someone of the opposite sex as a running mate, while heterosexual couples run together.
Pax said she was surprised at the outcome because UNT is a very liberal school. But she said that people on campus have been saying that it was an issue that was important to the fraternities and sororities who banded together to vote against the issue.
She attributed the low voter turnout to "apathy about something that doesn’t really affect them."
Jennifer Larson, a linguistics professor at UNT, had a different take on the issue.
"It’s homecoming. It’s stupid anyway," she said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 27, 2009.