Royalty selection process full of flaws


Smith, Andrew


The columnists who contributed to this piece interviewed multiple students, teachers and administrators to conduct their research.

royaltyprocessflawed_mugshotLast April, after school on a Friday, the PA system declared Roseville High School’s Junior Prom court. Jaws around the school dropped. Some were surprised, some were outraged, some were dejected. 10 were ecstatic.

The question we were compelled to ask was: What made those 10 different from the rest? As we began to delve into the process of being nominated, being selected and participating in RHS dance royalty, the responses we received were incredibly varied. Some were hostile, some defensive, some open and honest.

The controversy that surrounded the idea for our article actually pushed us to ask: Why is everyone up in arms? Do they have something to hide?

We first went to the person we thought could provide us with the most information about the royalty process, and what we found from our first interview was that the selection committee – a board of teachers who participate in choosing the five girls and five boys on court – are supposed to read the brief information on each nominee’s nomination packet. We were told that opinions in nominees cannot and should not be based on prior knowledge not mentioned in the packet.

We were also told in the same conversation that students must submit a picture to jog the staff’s memory of them.

The conflict between these two facts sent the four of us for a loop. We questioned why a photo would be necessary at all, if not used for the purpose of aiding the selection committee’s memory. Could the photo requirement signify bias in the selection process? The only purpose a photo on the application serves is to provide teachers with a prompt to remember who each student is and the role they’ve played in their life. In other words, a photo serves to facilitate biased selections.

Because this information didn’t match up to us, we decided the next best step was to speak directly with a teacher or staff member who had participated in the process of choosing a court before.
We were told that the roster of the panel is confidential, though the existence of such a committee is not.

As we consulted with other RHS students and teachers, the oddness of this confidentiality statement became more evident to us. Under what law are the students not allowed to know the royalty selection committee? More importantly, why is it such a secret?

Consider a political system in which government officials are elected by a group of elites. When some people are discontent with the choices the group made and set out to find answers, they are met with hostility and secrecy. As they try to uncover who is in charge of choosing the government officials, they are told it is confidential. They endure judgment and opposition. Do these things not all point to guilt in the system? If you were under a system as such, would you not desire to uncover the flaws?

The political system mentioned above is a large-scale representation of the exact circumstances RHS students are currently under. Somewhere in the court royalty process, there is flaw and there is guilt. If there weren’t, students would be much more educated on the process and people involved with becoming royalty.

Together we brainstormed a list of teachers and staff members we felt would fit the part of being on this board and began to conduct interviews with them. Mind you, there are some influential and relevant teachers who have not been asked to be on the panel once in their time teaching at RHS.

We learned that, in past years, teachers were given a list of every nominee and a copy of the information they provided. They were expected to look over this information, and were sometimes asked to use a point system or rubric to score the student in different categories. Some of the categories we heard were sports involvement, school involvement, club involvement and community involvement. We were also told that grades, attendance, behavior and school spirit were considered.

We had conflicting answers regarding whether or not a demonstration of leadership skills was an important factor while deciding court royalty.

When RHS students think of the word leadership, what is that first thing that comes to mind?

There’s no doubt that even teachers and administrators can have bias and prefer some students over others. Whether that’s because of a last name, a personality mesh, an interest in the same subject or whatever else, it would be impossible to compile a committee of staff that is completely fair and impartial.

However, while researching our subject, we found that often the same teachers serve on the committee every year. In our opinion, this is a disadvantage to many students who may not be as known to the particular teachers on the panel year after year.

Is it not true that a Government teacher may prefer a student who is a member of Junior State of America?

Is it ridiculous to assume that the boys basketball coach may prefer the student who won him every game this season?

Is it deniable to say that the activities director may prefer students who are active participants in Student Government?

These facts are not the fault of any single person, group or elective. It is in human nature to desire the success of people you are close to and relate to.

As we worked on this piece, we received a large amount of backlash from many students involved in Student Government because they felt they were being victimized. The intent of our article was not solely to point out the correlation between being in Student Government and being on court, but we could not ignore that three of the five girls on 2014 Junior Prom court were heavily involved in this program.

Whether a student or a teacher, a campus monitor or a principal, almost everyone at RHS links Student Government and leadership skills directly together. The unfortunate thing for the hundreds of students that aren’t in the class who possess incredible leadership skills, good grades and vehement school spirit, though, is that they have a significantly smaller chance of being represented on a dance court than a mediocre student that is in Student Government.

If you asked a group of people that attend RHS if they truly believe they have a chance to get on a dance court, the majority would just scoff and say, “Of course not. Not me.”
This is a problem. Any student who exemplifies the Tiger Way, contributes to the community, brings positivity to RHS and is involved in our school in some way or another – whether it be Anime Club or Tiger Ink – should not have this mindset.

In 2011, a then-RHS student, Dalton Blaser, wrote an article similar to this one headlined “Court Nomination Process Does Not Reflect Students’ Voice or School’s Diversity.” In the article, we found that Blaser had done some research that demonstrates the lack of Student Government versus non-SG ratio in courts. Blaser found that out of six dances – three Homecomings, two Casabas and one Junior Prom – 35 out of 60 royalty students were from Student Government.

Out of all the courts for 2012-2013 there were seven courts, making 70 people to of gotten on court, and of those 70 people, 41 of them had been in Student Government that year. This means that 58 percent of the court was made up again of this singular population.

To be more relevant with our findings, we found that in last year’s courts of Homecoming, Casaba and Junior Prom, the ratio for the girls was three-to-two, so over 50 percent was made up of Student Government students. For the fall term there were 45 students in Student Government and 34 of them were girls, but they made up over half the court. Does this seem like a good representation of our school if only one population dominates the courts?

The RHS senior class is comprised of 484 senior students, 28 of which are enrolled in Student Government. In other words, five percent of our seniors are in the program.

Where is the representation in that percentage?
If students are content with that percentage, no action is necessary. But if students see injustice in that percentage, we encourage then to demand a change from the class that rules RHS. The following are our suggestions:
1. If the committee is not supposed to use prior knowledge on students to make a decision, why attach a photo? White-out the name on each nominee packet, number them and have teachers decide which candidates are most suited to represent Roseville High School without them knowing who they are choosing. After the decision is made, reveal the names that match the numbers on the winning packets.
2. Offer locations other than 606 for people to pick up and turn in nomination forms. Distribute them to every homeroom. Students who are not in Student Government should not have to go out of their way in order to nominate someone they believe belongs on dance royalty. When they’re in Student Government territory, it is impossible not to question what anybody can be doing with the nomination forms.
3. Don’t allow Student Government students to count or record nominations unless they are being supervised by a non-affiliated staff member. No one should have to worry that their nomination form is being ripped up, thrown away or misrecorded by a student who doesn’t like them or thinks they are undeserving.
4. Don’t allow a junior or senior Student Government student to be the Homecoming Royalty Commissioner. If you don’t want your integrity to be questioned, don’t put yourself in a situation where your best friends and Student Government peers are in a competitive struggle that you oversee.
5. If you truly desire to involve more RHS students in activities, spend class time brainstorming ways to broaden the net. It is no coincidence that third-period Student Government, for the most part, remains the same class with the same people every single year.
6. The roster of teachers selecting the court shouldn’t be a secret, hidden from the student body. If they are selecting based on the criteria they promote, why should they care to keep it confidential? Students should know who is choosing the people that represent their student body on court.