This past Sunday, my campus, Florida International University (FIU), hosted an event that perpetuates violence towards women’s body psyche worldwide, Miss Universe.
Miss Universe is an international event that colonizes women’s bodies both on and offstage. This event upholds rigid Eurocentric beauty standards and inherently declares what “diversity” should look like to the rest of the world. FIU declares itself a “Worlds Ahead” university, but what type of educational institution can be “Worlds Ahead” while hosting an imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchal event? Our student body is overwhelmingly Hispanic, and Miami residents themselves already bear incredible pressure to achieve the perfect “beach body.” Hosting this event in a city that already emphasizes the importance of beauty over brains only further damages our community. In this sense, FIU is “Worlds Behind” and is dragging their students, staff and faculty behind along with them.
In addition to allegedly taking money from our women’s athletic program to enhance the lighting aesthetics of the stage, FIU also cancelled classes in the event area, blocked off parking for the disabled, and acquired military vehicles and weapons to police bodies outside of the event. In doing this, my university has officially delegitimized itself as a higher educational institution. Higher educational institutions do not host international events that oppress women (and especially women of color) worldwide. Higher educational institutions do not allegedly acquire money from their women’s athletics department for an event that disempowers women worldwide. Higher educational institutions do not avoid communicating with their faculty, staff and students before hosting such a toxic patriarchal event. Higher educational systems do not forget that they have women as students. Higher educational institutions are supposed to empower their community, not disempower them.
As a Latina – and particularly a Colombian, like the woman who won the Miss Universe event – student at FIU, the hosting of this event showed the world that FIU does not stand up for women of color or the needs of their faculty, staff and students. In hosting this event, FIU showed the world that they are only interested in constructing their image through a vapid and oppressive event by pouring half a million dollars into it, instead of using that money to improve much needed resources on campus. For a university that proclaims a “Worlds Ahead” mantra, it was certainly able to retrograde itself to a “Worlds Behind” university by using funds from the women’s athletics programs and reinforcing ethnocentricity and Eurocentric beauty standards to its diverse community in hosting Miss Universe.