The Mr and Ms UCD competitions are expected to take place later this semester following the passing of a motion at Students’ Union Council.
The motion, which authorises UCDSU Entertainment Vice President Jonny Cosgrove to run the event, was the subject of much debate at the SU Council, which convened on February 8th. The University Observer understands that the motion, which was proposed by Arts Programme Officer Edel Ní Churraion and seconded by Cosgrove, was met with opposition from UCDSU Welfare Vice-President Scott Ahearn.
Cosgrove was keen to stress that despite Ahearn’s opposition “There’s no dispute with us. I’m happier to work with the lads on whatever. We discussed it a bit beforehand and that’s why we put it to council.”
When questioned about his opposition to the motion, Ahearn stated: “I felt that the criteria within the competition is based on physical looks and I think it’s wrong for a students’ union of 22,000 members to be associated with a competition that defines what beauty is, regardless of the entry requirements.”
He went on to add that “being a Welfare Officer, I think that I was obliged and I feel strongly [that] the issues relating to low self esteem, eating disorders, self confidence, mental health for students, can be related from these portrayals, these types of competitions can put forward, of what perfection is.”
When asked if he felt that the UCD Fashion Show promoted similar images, Ahearn responded: “To my knowledge the fashion show is basically models, people who try on clothes and show them off. This [Mr and Ms UCD] is a competition that picks a winner on a number of categories, and one of those categories is based on physical beauty, which I don’t think we should do. It’s objectifying a human being.”
With regard to his feelings on the endorsement of the competition by Council, Ahearn said: “That’s each Class Rep’s prerogative, the majority decided to support it, that’s the Council way.”
Cosgrove informed The University Observer: “I’m up for any event that UCD students want me to do. I’m going to sit down with Scott and some of the Welfare Crew and some of the Ents Crew and set out the guidelines. At the moment there are none, so we’re just going to make sure that it’s not just a beauty pageant, it’s an all-round show and it’s good craic.”
In 2007 the Miss UCD Competition was at the centre of controversy, as the winner had to satisfy particular entry requirements in order to qualify for the Miss Ireland competition.
“One of my stipulations actually was that there had to be a Mr [UCD] partly because there’s no point just running a female thing,” said Cosgrove. “We’re not sexists down here you know.”