Among the changes to this year’s senior pop polls, which include digitizing the nomination and voting forms, was the overturn of the tradition that mandates one boy and one girl to win each category.
In January, shortly after the categories for the pop polls were released, senior Max Wu expressed his concerns about the one girl, one boy policy, calling it “cissexist.” Cissexism is the belief that transgender individuals are inferior to non-trans people. “It is problematic because it assumes that all people identify as either male or female, that those are the only existing gender identities,” Wu said.
Rather than approaching the creators of the pop polls categories, the senior board, Wu decided to voice his opinions on the senior class Facebook group, which consists of approximately 560 members out of 646 seniors. “The group on Facebook is a much more efficient way of not only addressing the issue to the senior board but also raising awareness as to how these microaggressions affect the LGBTQ community,” Wu said. “It also opens the floor for discussion, which can help the straight/cisgender community better understand the struggles the queer community faces, particularly in the Lowell environment.”
In response to Wu’s post, the managers of the pop polls, the senior class officers, changed the tradition from one girl and one boy to any two people. “I think it’s good for people who don’t know which gender to identify with,” senior class historian Constantine Chong said.
He does however, believe that it would have been better if Wu addressed the issue to the senior board privately rather than via a Facebook post. “It’s easier to get a better understanding of someone’s concerns when talking to him/her in person,” Chong commented. “Through Facebook, it turned into less of a suggestion and more of an argument.”
On the other hand, some seniors are concerned with the changes. Yearbook staff member senior Lily Shouldice is against the new policy. “It was a tradition to have one boy and one girl, and now it isn’t as equal as we would’ve liked,” Shouldice said. “Having one person from each gender would represent the boys more because there are usually more girls that are nominated.” Shouldice added that she does not think it accomplished the “fairness” and “equality” that they were going for.
In the end, Chong believes that pop polls are simply for people that are “curious” about what the majority of their peers think of each another. According to Chong, less than half of the senior class — approximately 300 seniors — participated in this year’s pop polls. “It should be taken with a grain of salt,” Chong commented.
After all, the English department has been voted in as a BFF, a first in yearbook history, according to yearbook advisor Carolyn Nickels.