Dragged away

March 19th, 2009

The John Carroll University-sponsored Drag Show event set for Feb. 19 was postponed this year due to conflicts with Ignatian Heritage Week.

The Office of Student Activities instructed the Student Union Programming Board to postpone the event due to the controversial nature of a drag show being held at a Jesuit institution during a spiritual week.

“I think that it was very unfair to postpone the drag show,” said Ali Karolczak, Allies president.

Ignatian Heritage Week was designed to invite students to reflect on the mission of the University “to excel in learning, leadership, and service in the region and in the world.”

Meanwhile, the drag show, a collaborative effort between Allies and SUPB, serves to educate students about LGBTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning and Allied), one of SUPB’s annual diversity endeavors.

The idea of the drag show is to allow any willing JCU student to perform karaoke acts in drag. This year, SUPB was looking to hire a professional drag queen to be the emcee.

In the past, the drag show has been well received by the JCU community as part of supporting Allies. However, Karolczak, was quick to point out, “Allies has often come across trouble with the John Carroll administration.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Mark McCarthy had his own concerns about the drag show that lead to its postponement.

“Prior shows included professionals who led discussions, answered questions and addressed myths and stereotypes. This year’s event was to be sponsored by the SUPB, did not explicitly include these elements and was to feature current students in drag performing karaoke,” he said.

McCarthy disagreed.  He said, “Unless the context for a drag show is clearly articulated and includes an educational purpose, there is a distinct possibility that the show could result in the objectification of women and men as well as stereotyping of GLBT persons. [This would] contravene the core values of John Carroll, intentionally or unintentionally.”

Karolczak said, “I respect SUPB and believe that they would have done a fine job of putting the show on. While it would have been an SUPB event, Allies was prepared to work with them to make sure that it would be educational and appropriate, while still fun.”

Student Union Vice President for Programming Carolyn Pici has been involved in the planning and implementation of this year’s drag show and understands the controversy.

“We did not want to take away from the specialness of Ignatian Heritage Week,” said Pici. “I’m sure they would have asked us to postpone any controversial event occurring during that week.”

Pici also mentioned that SUPB makes a strong effort every year to bring diverse events to JCU’s campus and student activities often encourages SUPB members to take part in diversity discussions and activities.

“I really hope that it still does get to take place at some point this semester,” said Karolczak.

SUPB is currently working with the OSA to reschedule the event for sometime in March or April.