Mercer is a funny place. We pride ourselves on our Baptist heritage in the same breath as our outstanding liberal education. But I’m not trying to argue between those two points — I’m just taking some time to exercise my First Amendment right to free speech.
But let me backtrack a little bit. Last semester my fraternity decided to bring back a pageant that used to take place on campus annually from 2000-2008. The pageant, which really is a scholarship competition, allowed Mercer’s female students the opportunity to highlight their community service, education, grace and beauty.
Now, the last pageant of this particular kind was in 2008 and that was about 10 years ago in Mercer years, but some of the same faces that were here during that time are still here. As you well know, every pageant has a swimsuit section. Nerve-wracking, yes, but it is still a part of every show including the shows in years past.
At first our chapter thought that we would not include it because we didn’t want to spurn potential participants and didn’t want to be seen as objectifying women. However, when we asked the participants if they wanted to include the swimsuit portion, they enthusiastically wanted to keep it. So we did. Now let me be clear: this is not some runway show with a woman gyrating across the stage, shaking what her mama gave her; she is simply walking to three predetermined spots for about 45 seconds.
In addition to that, most of the contestants would probably have been in a one-piece with some sort of shawl on. Everything was running smoothly up until three weeks before the show. Without warning, we were informed that we could not include a swimsuit portion in our pageant.
We combed through the Lair in fear that we might have missed some rule which stated that “exposure” was not allowed, but we didn’t see anything at all. Like I said before, Mercer is a funny place. We have a trolley that takes people downtown for unmentionable behavior, we have not one but two business that serve alcohol less than 500 feet from the campus, but somehow allowing a college-educated woman the chance to showcase her beauty suddenly isn’t in line with Mercer morals.
This is the same school that once thumbed their noses at the GBC because they were trying to stifle student activities. But as with anything, the show must go on, which it will, per the stipulations of course.
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