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Minority students upset by royalty nominations

By Erin Mahoney
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 5, 1999
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UA minority students said this week that the diverse student population is misrepresented by all the Caucasian nominees for this year's Homecoming Queen.

Members of the University of Arizona's Department of Asian Pacific American Student Affairs said earlier this week that they were upset by the lack of minority representation in the finalists for Homecoming Queen.

"It was kind of disheartening," said Billy McLean, an undeclared sophomore and the president of the Japanese Students Association. "They (the finalists) are all Caucasian women. At the university, we have so many people of different races."

The Homecoming Queen nominations are chosen by the Bobcats Senior Honorary, and Homecoming King nominations are chosen by the Mortarboard Senior Honorary.

Haegyung Cho, a molecular and cellular biology and political science sophomore, said most students accepted the nominations.

"It's a kind of muted acceptance, I guess," said Cho, who is on the APASA's Board of Directors. "It's something we're used to."

Two minorities - Alex Rios, of the Hispanic fraternity Omega Delta Pi, and Erwin Wong, from the APASA - appear on the ballot for Homecoming King, but none of the Homecoming Queen finalists are minorities.

Wong said he was disappointed with the Bobcats' selection processes.

"It is a concern," Wong said. "Personally, I kind of see a bias there."

Jeff Grant, Bobcats president, said the Bobcats received about 36 nominations for Homecoming Queen, with about 10 percent coming from minorities. He said any racial homogeneity is a coincidence.

"You need to take a step back and look at the diversity of the Bobcats themselves," he said. "These five nominees were chosen purely for their qualities."

But Wong, a biochemistry senior, said the lack of minority representation in the finalists represents a larger problem at the university.

"The UA administration doesn't really take the cultural centers seriously," he added.

But not all Asian-American students felt the selection was biased.

"I know there's been minority representation in the past, but the issue is difficult," said sociology senior Chris Jones. "From my point of view, I wouldn't jump the gun ... I wouldn't say it's a neglect by the university."

ASUA President Cisco Aguilar, a member of Bobcats, said he talked about the issue of minority representation with other members.

"I wish the organizations that have minority resource centers would have nominated more students to be queen," he said. "There weren't enough nominations."

Lindsey Stephens, a regional development senior and a Homecoming Queen nominee, said she felt the process was fair.

"There were plenty of minorities nominated ... I felt like it was fair to everyone," she said. "I feel like it shouldn't be an issue."

Members of other cultural associations on campus are less worried by the Bobcats' choices.

"I don't think it's really an issue," said Luis Gaitan, a communication freshman and student worker at the Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs and Resource Center. "It's the content of your character, not the color of your skin."

Chicano/Hispano Resource Coordinator Armando Valenzuela said he didn't know of any Hispanic women nominated.

"There's no controversy over here at all," he said. "I'm pretty happy Alex (Rios) is on there."

Tisha Shonnie, Miss Native American University of Arizona, said most Native American students don't participate in homecoming royalty elections.

"In my personal opinion ... none of them would really want to participate in the U of A pageant," said Shonnie, a Management Information Systems senior. "It's nothing we're really interested in."

Amy McDowell, a first-year graduate student in bilingual school psychology and a regular at the African American Resource center, said African-American students don't seem to be upset by the Homecoming Queen nominations.

"It doesn't bother me," she said. "What concerns me more is that minorities make it through this university ... there's a lot more pressing issues we have to deal with."

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