Mr. Dixie could mean more

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Everyone knows the Mr. Dixie pageant isn’t just funny — it is hilarious, but despite all the schtick, I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Dixie will be anything more than funny.  

For those unfamiliar with Mr. Dixie, it is a faux-pageant for male Dixie State University students to flaunt their flairs, charisma and personality in hopes of winning a crown and bragging rights.

My concern arises due to Mr. Dixie’s controversial past, which has sprouted debates regarding whether it should continue. Although the event sometimes fills the Gardner Center with eager students, other undergraduates believe that Mr. Dixie promotes self-humiliation, glorifies lewd behavior and excuses students to perform offensive acts. 

For example, the Vimeo.com video titled “Mr. Dixie Pageant 2011,” highlights one contestant’s talent to avoid the border patrol. 

This contestant, who was Latin-American, won the pageant, and, according to a 2011 Dixie Sun article, he said he was going to sell his crown because “I need to feed my familias back on the other side of the borders.”

That response is funny, albeit cringe-worthy.   

Fortunately, the event organizers have worked hard for Mr. Dixie to be a tasteful event that showcases the debonair men of DSU.  

“We want [Mr. Dixie] to be light-hearted, funny and entertaining, but we want it to stay between the bounds of being funny, yet not being extraordinarily vulgar,” said Jill Wulfenstein, DSU vice president of student life, an integrated studies major from Pahrump, Nevada.

Wulfenstein explained that DSUSA is aware many families attend Mr. Dixie. This is why it uses sign-up sheets and dress rehearsals to weed out potentially damaging stunts.

I give props to the contestants and student organizers for their dedication to entertain our student-body. Don’t get me wrong: I encourage students to support Mr. Dixie.  

I simply would like Mr. Dixie’s title be more than just nominal.  He certainly needn’t to act on par with Miss Dixie or Miss D Week, but his title should be the result of something else besides laughter. He could help plan and appear at a service event or assist in presenting awards at a social. And others agree.  

“It would give Mr. Dixie the opportunity to be more than just ‘the winner,’” said Shayna Wood, a junior Spanish major from St. George, who participated in the Washington City Princess Scholarship Pageant. “He would be more of a representative. And others would see that his responsibilities are serious so it would help change the view that the pageant is more serious, too.”

Wood also said that pageantry principles can help when seeking employment: “When taken seriously [pageantry] definitely helps in presenting oneself — speech, appearance and knowledge — convincingly to judges [such as potential employers].”

My hope is that Mr. Dixie will progress beyond bros in black leotards gyrating to “Single Ladies” on stage (which happened in 2010) and that it will become an integral part of DSU life that reflects our university status.