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Cotton queen hands over crown

By La Monica Everett-Haynes
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 24, 2000
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After a semester-long exchange of questions and concerns, UA journalism sophomore Anastasia Ching resigned as 1999-2000 Maid of Cotton last week, alleviating her dispute with the Phoenix Cotton Women.

"I'm fine with how things are now but I wish they didn't have to happen," Ching said about the initial dispute. "It's not seamless and it wasn't the most pleasant experience."

Early last semester, Ching said the Phoenix Cotton Women - a 37-year-old service club - falsely advertised a scholarship.

Last semester Anthony Ching, her father and attorney, said he wrote a letter to Patty Rovey, president and tour manager of the club, stating that "as a matter of law, the widely advertised promise of a $2500 scholarship was fraudulent inducement."

Anastasia said she applied after seeing an advertisement in her residence hall.

After she won, the number of responsibilities and public appearances she would have to make during her reign was raised, she said.

"When they found out that I was not going to miss my classes they didn't want to work with me," Ching said of last semester's plight. "I thought it seemed unfair that they didn't want to work with me on that but it didn't surprise me."

She said the club wanted her to either drop or miss her college courses so she could travel between Tucson and several cities in the Phoenix area to make public appearances.

Holly Gieszl, attorney for the Phoenix Cotton Women, said Ching misunderstood the requirements of the scholarship.

"Anastasia Ching is a very bright, smart, creative young woman, and she will do very well in life," Gieszl said. "I don't know where the stuff about false advertising came from."

Gieszl added that the main issue of the problem was "Anastasia determining she could not serve as Maid of Cotton given the time it would take and her commitment to her studies."

Gieszl said Ching chose not to complete her term because she believed it would impede her ability to serve as an honor student.

"Anastasia was paid a portion of her fee of what she would have been paid in recognition of the time she would have been served," Gieszl said.

That fee, she said, was a portion of the $2,500 scholarship money.

Anthony Ching said his daughter did not misunderstand but instead was misled about the scholarship because the sign advertising it did not inform applicants that the scholarship is not paid until after performing one year of service for the organization.

Both attorneys said all claims that the scholarship was fraudulent have been dropped without proceeding to a trial or developing a lawsuit against the club.

Gieszl said there was no lawsuit, no case, no trial and no complaint filed.

"She never filed a complaint, she did not sue the Phoenix Cotton Women - she resigned and her resignation was received with dignity on both sides," Gieszl said.

Rovey could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Gieszl said the Phoenix Cotton Women welcomed Ching's choice to resign because of the time restraints that would prevent her from taking full advantage of her college education.

"She did what was appropriate under the circumstances," Gieszl said, adding that the club commended her for "putting her studies first."

"Anastasia and the Cotton Women agreed that she would resign - they were fully supporting and understanding," she said.

Ching, who was not in direct contact with the Phoenix Cotton Women during the semester-long dialogue, said her father - her sole spokesman - helped resolve the matter.

"I'm not trying to sound negative - there is no dispute, everything is resolved," she said.

Her father refused to discuss his dialogue between the club's attorney and the amount of money received saying that "everything has been settled to everybody's satisfaction."

He added that he was not at liberty to give any further statements about the case because, as an attorney of an agreement, it would be unethical to give any further statements.

"Once you settle a case you're not supposed to talk about it because the presumption is that everyone is satisfied," he said.

Looking back on the prizes she gave away with her crown - a $2,500 cash scholarship, a $3,500 wardrobe and a year of free hair styling and a modeling course - Anastasia said she feels no remorse because her priorities are straight.

"I don't really care about those things," she said. "I just cared about whether I would miss my classes," she said. She added that she didn't want a shameful resignation.

Gieszl assured that Ching's resignation was not received as a shameful event, but was supported by the Phoenix Cotton Women.

"The most important thing is the issue of her reign as the Maid of Cotton concluded with dignity and appropriately with pride on both parts," Gieszl said. "They are very proud that she was the Maid of Cotton and wish her well."

LaMonica Everett-Haynes can be reached at city@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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