Throwback Jack: Ms. Georgetown mishaps

October 19, 2011

Traditions abound on Homecoming Weekend—alumni return to their old stomping grounds, everyone goes out to see the football game (or at least tailgate for it), and students crown a champion in the annual Mr. Georgetown Pageant. Some of those traditions stretch back over 70 years to Georgetown’s first homecoming. Others have evolved. For example, it wasn’t always about Mr. Georgetown. Up until 1971, it was all about Ms. Georgetown, the Homecoming Queen.
Each year, the Hoya printed photos of the smiling faces of young women from schools in the surrounding area, encouraging students to vote for their favorite candidate. Candidates for Homecoming Queen, called princesses, were nominated by the Student Athletic Social Committee “on the basis of their charm, good looks, and poise,” according to a 1965 Hoya article. The selection process for each candidate also involved asking potential princesses to respond to questions “on such varied subjects as Van Gogh and American policy in Vietnam.”
While candidates were expected to be politically aware, the Georgetown community was not always sensitive to issues of political correctness.
In 1969, Miss Daryl Chamblee, a black woman, was elected Homecoming Queen. William Barrows, an African-American graduate of the class of 1971, wrote in the Hoya that “instead of announcing the Homecoming Queen at the bonfire rally or the game … the announcement took place on Saturday evening around 10:30,” after all of the ceremonies of the night had concluded. In addition, Barrows noted that although it had been customary for the candidates to march onto the football field to be seen by the crowd, “Miss Chamblee was told that this would not be necessary—no reason was given for this change in procedure.”
According to Barrows, none of the candidates marched on to the field that year and, instead, “a rather brief and indescriptive introduction of each candidate was given.” The following year, when a Caucasian woman was elected, Georgetown reverted to its traditional fanfare but, according to Barrows, “did not have last year’s Homecoming Queen [Chamblee] present the bouquet of flowers.”
A few years later in 1976, even after the Homecoming Queen pageant had been abolished, The Black Student Alliance (BSA) still hosted its own, separate “Black Homecoming.” The event’s publicity manager told the Hoya “in the past, black input into Homecoming was minimal.”
The Homecoming Queen tradition ended in 1971, with Ann Weiler being the last Queen to be coroneted. The author of a sarcastic article published in the Hoya that same year wrote that “even here at good old Bergdorf Goodman University women are becoming increasingly insulted with the whole rigmarole.” According to the article, residents of St-Mary’s-Darnall, an all-female dormitory at the time, were not permitted to nominate candidates. By that time, nomination had been passed over to the student body from the Student Athletic Social Committee.
While any female voice in selecting a Homecoming Queen was ignored, male interest had significantly declined. Residents of New South and the Quad (male dorms) did not nominate any candidate, and other dorms chose their nominees at the final hour, on a “whim.” According to the article’s author, the concept of a Homecoming Queen was just “hopelessly out of step with college life of the seventies,” and hence, she correctly predicted “the speedy demise of Homecoming Queen-ships.”
Jane Hoyas are no longer subjected to being “presented…as a special feature of the half-time entertainment,” as a 1965 Hoya article phrased it. And hopefully, we are at least slightly removed from the blind biases of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.  Let’s just hope no one looks at Mr. Georgetown in the same light 40 years from now.

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