Student Government President Garin Flowers presented one idea to unify the student body and encourage school spirit during an SG Senate meeting Feb 19.
So, what is his plan to bring USF together?
Flowers’ answer: Judging students on their appearance!
To break down barriers, so the reasoning goes, the Miss USF pageant (and a new Mr. USF pageant, a token – and yawn-inducing – attempt at gender equality) may be revived at USF.
Concisely, Flowers is making a push toward revitalizing a beauty pageant – an event that’s barely more academic than a wet T-shirt contest – which has no place on campus.
Originally, there was support to revamp specific Activity and Service (A&S) fee regulations that would have made it possible for the winner to receive a scholarship. This idea, thankfully, was dropped in favor of private donations. However, that does not change the fact that SG time and resources – which stem from A&S money in the first place – are being used for such a show of, well, empty pageantry.
Despite talk about a “talent” competition as part of the pageant, consider what a beauty pageant does.
It rewards people for attributes they have little to no control over. Physical appearance does not give any indication of academic excellence.
How scholarships – which typically aim to help students succeed academically by giving them an economic boost – have anything to do with good looks is thus beyond the realm of reason. More importantly, attractiveness is, for the large part, relative.
That a student should win money that comes from a pool into which all students must pay for a reason that’s not objective – and hence, very open to unfairness – is outrageous and unjustifiable.
Universities like USF should be concerned with academic performance when awarding scholarships – especially if a student did well in school while overcoming great personal or financial turmoil – not visual pomp.
Although Flowers is hopeful that the winner will not only be able to receive a scholarship, but qualify for the Miss Florida pageant as well, it’s still not a good reason to dole out money into what amounts to a display that’s part livestock show, part exhibitionism and part vanity.
Miss Florida and Miss America are antiquated institutions in and of themselves, and USF should do what it can to break away from boring vestiges of America’s sexist past. SG can kick-start this progress by abandoning its ridiculous push for a beauty contest.