Despite development of what student association officials say is a successful alternative program to the discontinued homecoming queen pageant, some grumbling persists among Brigham Young University students and administrators over the student government decision to end the pageant.
Four students, two men and two women, were recently named BYU's student achievement award winners in a contest first held this year and perceived by most students to be a replacement for the Miss BYU pageant. Coordinators of the award program say it would have begun in 1988 regardless of whether the homecoming pageant were discontinued, so the new program should not be considered a replacement and should not be compared to the Miss BYU program.Mark Crockett, BYU Student Association president, said the student achievement awards were a success, and student leaders intend to stick with their decision to eliminate the homecoming pageant.
"The student achievement program exists on its own merits. There will be mixed feelings about any decision you make," he said. "I thought they were a great success for a first-year program."
Some students criticized the decision to discontinue the pageant, and some members of the administration agree. But most of those school officials are keeping their opinions to themselves because Brigham Young University President Jeffrey R. Holland believes student government has the right to make its own decisions, said Brent Harker, assistant director of public communications.
"I know there are several people in the administration who didn't agree with (the decision to end the pageant). But President Holland's stance is that student government is a viable organization and can make its own decisions and live by them," Harker said. "There are some feelings on both sides that haven't been expressed. It's responsible for the administration to let the students handle it. Some people feel it (the homecoming pageant) was a long tradition and a good thing to do at homecoming."
One professor, Doug Smoot of the engineering department, has made his criticism of the new program public, though. He wrote to student government officials to let them know he disagrees with their assessment of the Miss BYU pageant.
"Having seen my two daughters involved in the pageant (one as queen, another as a member of the court), I thought it was a fine program. I thought it was a fine tradition, and there's value in tradition," he said. "The qualifications of talent and scholarship that Miss BYU contestants had were to be emulated. I couldn't see sufficient incentive to discontinue this program."
Tamara Quick, assistant dean of student life, said that if students want the homecoming pageant back badly enough, they probably could get it. But the group currently running student government believes in its new program and has no intention of bringing back Miss BYU.
Ouick said the new program allows a diverse group of students to compete, because it is open to men as well as women and de-emphasizes physical beauty in favor of mental and spiritual attributes. The talent competition allowed for a wider range of skills, too. One contestant, for instance, flew his plane over the Spencer W. Kimball Tower to exhibit his abilities. Married and single students can compete. They are judged on writing composition, personal interviews, talent/skill, oratorical presentation and impromptu questioning.
About 20 students signed up to participate in the competition, which was less than organizers had hoped for. Quick said there have been up to 50 contestants in past homecoming pageant competitions.
But one of the winners of the first student achievement awards, Tracy Young, said the experience was very satisfying.
"I'm a senior, and I've really had a good experience at the Y. I thought this was a good opportunity to express my feelings about BYU," Young said. "They were looking for a lot of things this year that they hadn't been looking for before, so I felt that maybe I'd have a chance. They're choosing to recognize people for more of an inner type of quality."