Needlessly gendered award should catch up to the times

By Victor Dixon, Editor-in-Chief

The end of the school year is just around the corner, and so is graduation. Is anybody else looking forward to the Ablah Awards?

Personally, I am. I have several friends in the senior class who I think would be more than deserving of the award, which recognizes Newman’s two top graduates and is not given out until the graduation ceremony.

But there is an issue with it:

Each year, one male and one female are given the awards, and at this point, that tradition just feels archaic. 

To be fair, I am aware that the awards are named particularly for a successful man and his wife  (Leona J. and Harvey J. Ablah), but it’s not like the recipients are getting married, so why is it necessary that the award go to one male and one female?

And, granted, I am a freshman, and I’m still figuring out how things work around here and finding my place, but it just feels disappointing to see yet another tradition that’s secured a permanent spot in the ever-widening margin of things that are needlessly gendered.

For something like homecoming court, I don’t care quite as much. That’s just a frivolous popularity contest, just like all the ones I sat through in high school, although still disappointing.

But this is something that is meant to recognize two people who have chosen to spend a formative portion of their lives showing dedication to improving this university and embodying its culture and spirit. This award goes far beyond popularity or quantifiable achievements: This is a recognition of character. I’d hate to see somebody be passed up for it simply because they were “second best” within the population of male or female.

Not to mention, what happens when we have a student who is not one or the other? Personally, my identity is quite binary, so I don’t share that experience, but I can attest to the fact that being given a great honor but misidentified on the stage would be just as bad as being overlooked for not fitting into a category. Bear in mind that either option is discriminatory, and fixing it on the spot only once it becomes an issue would just be too little too late.

So, Newman, it’s 2024. Let’s recognize the top two seniors, regardless of the label they fit under.

And let’s not keep society waiting. It’s starting to transform without us.

PHOTO: Victor Dixon, Editor-in-Chief