UALR gets down to business
Nominees hang up formal wear, to don versatile business attire in 2011.
When the nominees for homecoming queen step onto the court at the Jack Stephens Center Saturday you will notice a big change from last year—UALR is all business, suits that is.
The university has changed the nominees’ dress code from formal to business attire according to homecoming 2011 guidelines that state, “The attire for UALR Homecoming is business. Candidates and their escorts should wear a suit.”
Jenny Dodson Hunt, campus life specialist, said, “This is an issue that has been discussed for several years; however, we felt that the time was right to make the change in 2011.”
Times are changing and UALR is not the first to make the switch. According to Hunt, “formal attire at a university homecoming is no longer the norm.
“When we benchmarked our practices with several other institutions in the state [Arkansas State University, University of Arkansas and University of Central Arkansas] we were the only other institution using formal attire. This was a large factor of the decision, to bring our institution’s practices up-to-date with those surrounding universities.”
Another factor of the dress code change was the cost of formal wear. Hunt said, “The individuals who were selected to represent their institution had a large financial burden quickly thrust upon them. For many, this was prohibiting their participation. If a candidate were to go out and purchase attire, we would prefer for it to benefit them in the future. For many, business attire will come in handy during job interviews and in the workplace.”
Although the decision was an administrative one, Hunt said feedback from alumni, donors, students and past participants was taken into consideration. “We always have the students’ interest at the forefront of our decisions,” she said.
However, Trojan Talk and the University Program Council nominee Zandra Carroll, senior psychology, Spanish and criminal justice major, said she did not like the decision. “I suggested that all the girls meet with the adviser over homecoming and discuss an alternative, like pre-approved gowns,” Carroll said. She added that her suggestion was acknowledged with a reminder that candidates who do not follow the guidelines may be disqualified.
“I feel the university has taken yet again another wonderful event geared to promote student activity and turned it into a political stand. Ultimately, I think decisions like that contradict the university’s mantra and limits the voice of the students,” Carroll said.
Other nominees were also less than thrilled with the change initially, but have since come to accept it.
The Connection College Ministry’s nominee Juliana Tournear, senior speech pathology major, said, “I was sad to hear that I was not going to get to wear a dress for homecoming. I think getting to wear a dress is one of the most fun parts about homecoming …
“But at the same time I do understand that maybe not everyone can afford an expensive evening gown … So everyone wearing suits kind of evens the playing field and makes everyone feel like they fit in.”
Student Athlete Advisory Committee nominee Sarah Beth Slinkard, senior advertising and public relations major, said, “At first I was a little disappointed we weren’t going to be able to do the traditional gowns.
“But I do see the practicality of changing the dress code to business. Because we are in college and will soon be professionals in the work force, it makes sense to spend money wisely on professional attire we will wear again.”
It’s only natural that there would be some disappointment concerning the change. Hunt said, “I think that change can be very difficult to accept. I would hope that our students could look past the immediate future and see the vision that we, as administrators, have for the institution. That while change may be difficult right now, they are the beginning of something new.”
The Student Government Association nominee Anna Marie Rambo-Hoyt, sophomore health science and public relations major, seemed to embrace the change from the beginning. She said, “I honestly like that we’ve updated the dress code. As much as I love the pageantry of formal gowns, I feel that that particular dress code for homecoming should be left in high school.
“UALR has always been known as a non-traditional university… I feel that this is a better way to showcase those who are given the honor and opportunity to represent various student organizations, and ultimately UALR, at what is always the most anticipated and spirited game of the year. Plus, who says you can’t be sassy and classy in business attire?”
The dress code change is only the most recent step amongst many that the university has taken to improve participation in homecoming and campus life overall. Hunt said, “When I began working with Homecoming 2008 we only had four candidates, and likewise in 2009. However, over the course of the past two years when we have updated the requirements and attire, there has been a dramatic increase in participation (nine candidates in 2010 and 11 candidates in 2011).
“I think that while the changes have been difficult for some, overall they have had a positive impact.”