By Zoe Hall
Following a difficult College Night season under the University health restrictions because of coronavirus, the current College Night leaders announced on Monday, April 5, that College Night leaders are no longer set to be binary in a gender structure.
According Gold Side Leader, Abby Jo Askins, there were a few different reasons that the leaders pushed for the change.
“First of all, Montevallo is unlike any other place in this primarily conservative state. We embrace differences and we look to empower those who may be disenfranchised in other places in their lives,” said Askins. “We believe that anyone is capable of being a leader and that they should be offered the same opportunities no matter what their gender, sexual orientation or any other personal identifiers.”
Askins also expressed hopes that the change “opens the doors for anyone to be leader as long as they are the right candidate.”
“There should be no limit of male or female keeping people in a box and lowering chances for those who deserve it,” said Askins. “If you have the passion, the leadership qualities, the drive and the chance to run, then there is no good reason for your gender to prevent you from holding that position.”
“Two women could be leaders, two men, those who identify as non-binary can be welcomed to the table. The possibilities are endless with this amendment,” said Askins.
While the election for next year’s College Night leaders has not yet started, candidates on both sides have commented on the change.
“When I heard about the College Night board changing the rules of College Night, I thought about it will not only open the doors for females and males to run for leader, but for everyone to run was incredible news. This also allows people who are the most qualified to be put in the position of power, which is great for both sides,” said junior musical theatre major and Gold Side candidate Kensley Sandlin.
“To me this allows the sides to vote freely for who they truly want. Going into the next season, I cannot wait to see how this plays out and the success that comes out of it,” said Sandlin.
Another candidate for Gold Side leader, junior finance and accounting major Collin Stephens also commented, saying he “couldn’t be happier to be part of such a historic College Night leader campaign.”
Stephens particularly noted the change for its progressiveness and movement towards inclusion.
“It’s nice to see progressive changes being made by the current Leaders and the College Night Committee to make such a large role on campus be more welcoming,” said Stephens. “It provides a huge opportunity for each side to elect the four best possible individuals to run for Leader regardless of their identity, and I think that taking away the limiting factor of only having two women and two men is a welcome change.”
Though Stephens is also the only male running on the Gold Side ballot he said that “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Junior musical theatre major and Purple Side candidate Carson Reed agreed.
“The non-binary structure is a brilliant step in the right direction for inclusion and for the longevity of College Night. I think it’s important to recognize the changing time,” said Reed. “The two leaders for College Night should be the most qualified individuals. Elaborating on the inclusion point, recognizing that there are people on both sides that don’t identify with the binary is important.”
“Everyone interested in running for leader deserves the respect to have it be a comfortable experience. The tradition of College Night is so important to so many people and with a University that is often ahead of the times, it is wonderful to see us do a self-evaluation and make changes accordingly,” said Reed.