EFP and Theta Phi Alpha ‘family-friendly’ drag event rejected


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Eagles for Pride and Theta Alpha Phi are working towards next steps of to getting the event approved

Eagles for Pride (EFP) and Theta Phi Alpha Sorority presented a proposal for a “family-friendly” drag show event to the Ashland University administration. However, the event and its proposal was rejected as it “did not align with the values and traditions of Ashland University,” according to AU President Dr. Carlos Campo.

“The event was never presented to the Board of Trustees, and there was no Board action that denied approval of the event,” said Brielle Nettles, executive director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “The program was denied because it was determined to be incongruent with the Board of Trustees Alignment Policy.”

EFP and Theta Phi Alpha planned a “Family Feud game show event,” with the event MC, heads of teams, and hosts being individuals in drag.

Regarding previous similar events, EFP President Rhiannon Reed said that the recent proposal marked the “first time an event like this has gone this far through the approval process.”

“It was always a worry that due to the concerns that were expressed during the creation of Eagles for Pride that a drag show or pride event would never be in the cards for this club, so not many people even wanted to make an attempt,” Reed said.

Cara McKeown, the panhellenic delegate of the Theta Phi Alpha Sorority, mentioned that three attempts had been made to approve the event and also mentioned that the Board of Trustees asked for a revision of the initial proposal.

“The Board of Trustees asked for the revision of the initial proposal that didn’t include certain words and phrases and was a clear-cut and dry message of what the event would entail,” said McKeown. “For example, the words Drag and LGBTQ were not allowed on the posters for the event and made the organizations thoroughly explain what would happen at the event and still said no.”

What is a “family-friendly” drag show?

The word “drag” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary means:

Entertainment in which performers challenge gender stereotypes by combining elements of stereotypically male and female dress, often with elaborate costumes and makeup.

“A family-friendly drag show consists of multiple drag queens dressed appropriately and performing (lip-syncing and dancing) to family-friendly music,” said McKeown.

Reed stated certain “family-friendly” events could include other elements, pointing to an example of drag queen readings that occur at libraries.

“The most popular example would be drag queen readings at the library, which is quite simply just someone dressed up in drag reading books out loud at a local library,” said Reed. “It’s just like any other storytime event, with the only difference being that a drag queen is the reader.”

Student Senate Proposal

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, EFP and Theta Phi Alpha addressed the issue with the Student Senate about the event being rejected.

The summarized version of the letter to the Student Senate stated as follows:

Eagles for Pride and Theta Phi Alpha proposed a family-friendly drag show event to raise money for the Full Spectrum Community Outreach Housing Project in Mahoning County, a project for housing LGBTQ+ youth. The event proposal unfortunately was denied after going through the runaround from the Board of Trustees to President Campo, the reason for its denial was that the university wasn’t “ready” for such an event. This is not the only thing, but this is the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to the university’s view of Eagles for Pride.

The Student Senate decided to meet with both organizations to proceed with the steps that could follow.

Although both groups are waiting for a response, Reed believes the Student Senate has supported the organizations and their efforts.

“As of right now, the senate has been doing an incredible job of supporting us and what we’ve been going through and making the student body aware of it,” said Reed. “We have written a letter to them detailing all of the things that have happened in the past few months of us trying to get this event approved and explaining exactly why something like this is important. They plan on helping us spread this letter to the student body, and have plans to see what they have within their power to help support us.”

According to Reed, EFP and Theta Phi Alpha are ensuring that the student body is aware of the outcome of the attempts.

McKeown echoed this sentiment, stating that Theta Phi Alpha is considering a peaceful protest on campus “to further support queer students against the administration.”