Do Pageants Belong in Student Affairs?

by William Takewell

In the spirit of this past Sunday’s Miss America Pageant I would like to pose a question… Should universities sponsor pageants using student fees?

To be completely honest, I have always enjoyed the pageants that are sponsored by the universities I have attended. I have even had the chance to gain event planning experience by working to plan and coordinate them. However, I have always thought in the back of my mind that it wasn’t right to have the pageant sponsored through student fees or using money that could go to benefit more students.

Now, I don’t mean for this post to be take as me saying I think pageants are bad or don’t have a place in college life. However, I wonder if they are really justifiable? So much of student affairs and higher education is justifying funding and utilization for fees—primarily how whatever is being funded demonstrates and supports student success. Do pageants successfully support student success? Yes and no.

Most of the women I have known that have competed, successfully, in pageants have competed before or have trained for months leading up to the school’s pageant. I have never really seen someone on a whim decide to compete in a pageant the month before. I know, and agree, that the institution of pageants can support the development of public speaking skills, self-confidence, and overall wellness, but are there other ways to do that outside of pageants? And, do these other ways cast a wider net that allow for more inclusivity and a better way to reach more individuals? Are we being as effective as we can with all student fees if we choose to sponsor a scholarship-beauty pageant? 

What are your thoughts? Does your institution sponsor a Miss America pageant?   

Student Affairs - the First Years

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