Last year, the Election Reform Task Force was created by Leah Davis (class of 2020) and Katherine Sistrunk (class of 2019) with the goal of finding ways to make the elections more equitable for all students. A component of this initiative was to create a Homecoming King position. With 1,300 more votes than last year’s campus elections, we experienced the highest voter turnout in our campus’ history.
On Sept. 19, the University of Mississippi elected its first ever Homecoming King. Carl Tart of Yazoo City has solidified his place in the history books. Tart is a brother of the Eta Beta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and serves as the executive director of the Student Activities Association and chief of staff for the Black Student Union. No matter what major, demographic or community you belong to, Carl Tart has probably, in some way, impacted your University of Mississippi experience.
The result was a blow to the Greek power structure on our campus. Fraternities and sororities are usually top priorities on the campaign trail for a strategic candidate. When a candidate has an especially powerful campus fan base, it is reasonable to assume they have some affiliation with a Panhellenic or Interfraternity Council organization.
In fact, of the eight students elected this campaign, five are in CPH or IFC chapter, one is on National Pan-Hellenic Council and two are not in either organization. This is a far better number than 2018 elections when every single winner was a member of a CPH or IFC chapter.
Tart is the only National Pan-Hellenic winner in the election. His years of dedication to service, leadership and mentorship to students at the university paved the way for his election. He garnered the vote through grassroots campaigning. His kindness, humility, positive demeanor and general likability are what make him the perfect first homecoming king.
In an instagram post published Friday, Tart expresses his gratitude by saying, in part:
“YOU made this walking statistic into a pivotal piece of campus history. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for allowing me to serve as your FIRST HOMECOMING KING. I cannot wait to use my platform to give others the HAPPINESS they deserve, the OPPORTUNITY of a lifetime, the space for MATURITY, and the ultimate EXPERIENCE of what it means to be an Ole Miss Rebel.”
It is refreshing to see that personality, hard work, campaigning and a commitment of service are enough to afford someone a title, opposed to just being in a panhellenic organization. My hope is that this will set a precedent of genuine leadership and a commitment to the student body for campus elections. This win is groundbreaking and well deserved. Congratulations University of Mississippi for ‘Crowning Carl.’
Yasmine Malone is a junior general studies major from Clarksdale, Mississippi.