Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bad Pageant Press: The Tiara Was Nice, Now Where's the Scholarship?

The Tiara Was Nice, Now Where's the Scholarship?
A New York Times article by Jennifer Lee.
“You are talking about an organization that is promoting itself as the largest scholarship provider for women in the world,” Ms. Wood, 26, said of the Miss America Organization. “When contestants try to collect their funds, they encounter one obstacle after another.”

Ms. Wood said she was told that she would not get the $20,000 for winning the Miss South Carolina pageant in part because her two local pageants had not paid her $950 that she had won from them (Ms. Wood said that after she enrolled in classes, one group reneged on payment and the other dodged her when she tried to collect). In turn, because she did not receive the state money, the national pageant sent her a letter in June saying she was ineligible for the $5,000 from it, even though the deadline to use her national scholarship had not passed. “It’s like a game of gotcha,” she said. “What is very clear to me is that the goal is to not give out the scholarships if at all possible.”

Interviews with contestants across the country describe a Miss America system in which local pageant directors do not return telephone calls and e-mail messages for months, local competitions close down before scholarships are distributed, and the fine print in contracts creates hurdles.

In a statement, the Miss America Organization, based in Linwood, N.J., said: “While it is unimaginable that scholarships, which are the heart and soul of Miss America, could or would be wrongly withheld from pageant participants, we are looking into these allegations... The statement added, “The Miss America Organization is absolutely unaware of any young lady that has ever been denied payment of scholarships after properly following the application process.”

Click the link above for the complete article and CLICK HERE for a preemptive letter from Miss America about this article.

It’s certainly not news that “dead beat” local E.D.s exist. All this article is proving is that in some cases States and Miss America need to wave the procedural rules IF a contestant can prove she has done all she can to get her local money.

I’ll admit, my parents and I often sighed a complaint of “why can’t they just hand out a check with the crown!?!?” But, sending a school bill is really not that hard, and I understand the need for the procedures. In my experience, Miss Ohio’s Treasurer Tim O’Guinn has actually gone well out of his way to make sure women get their state scholarships.

The trouble the contestants in this article have had is unfortunate; but the article itself and the uninformed negativity it will foster is even worse!

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