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Something’s gotta give at Michigan Tech

As a resident of Portage Township and a graduate of Houghton High School, and despite the fact that I went to two other universities prior to returning home, I am proud to say that I have my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan Technological University. I love saying that I bleed Black and Gold. I attend hockey games, volleyball matches, football games, soccer games, and even basketball games whenever my schedule allows, and even wear the school colors whenever possible. I just recently bought a new Huskies winter hat that I have been wearing, even when the temperature outside does not warrant it.

However, after what happened on Sunday, I am deeply saddened by the state of the leadership on campus.

Just a handful of days ago, TV6’s website, uppermichiganssource.com, ran a story about Michigan Tech’s upcoming Winter Carnival activities, which kicked into high gear Saturday evening with the Queen Competition. For the first time in school history, the competition had a male contestant in Zack Metiva.

To be honest, I was a bit disheartened to read this story in the first place. I do not feel that a male has a place in a queen competition, but that is my own opinion on the matter. The fact is that Blue Key, the campus organization who manages Winter Carnival had already decided to allow this, so I feel about his eligibility is irrelevant.

The chair of the Winter Carnival Queen Competition, Abigail Hendrix spoke on the record to TV6 about having a male competitor for the first time in school history.

“We realized this year that we really want to empower all the students at Michigan Tech, and give everyone a chance to show that they are good representatives for Michigan Tech and have other talents besides just being a student here,” she said. “I haven’t received much push back so far. A lot of the students are very excited about this forward movement and so is Blue Key.”

Naturally, the Pep Band was the on-campus organization that sponsored Metiva, while Swift True Value Hardware provided the off-campus support. Leave it to the men and women of the band, who believe strongly in everyone’s individuality, as evidenced by their choice of hats on game day, to be the group who supported Metiva in this endeavor.

Saturday night, Metiva won over the hearts and minds of his peers and was later crowned queen.

On Sunday, Blue Key sent an email statement out announcing that they were stripping Metiva of the crown and awarding it instead to first runner-up Riley Simpson.

According to Keweenaw Report, the email contained the following statement:

“It was brought to the attention of Blue Key Honor Society that the previously crowned 2020 Winter Carnival Queen displayed inappropriate behavior following the Coronation. This behavior does not represent the values of Winter Carnival, Blue Key, and Michigan Technological University. The Winter Carnival Queen embodies a well-rounded, confident, and talented individual who showcases the importance of scholarship, community, and character. In light of this, Riley Simpson has been crowned the 2020 Winter Carnival Queen. Blue Key would like to emphasize that the Winter Carnival Queen Coronation will remain an inclusive event, open to all students.”

What behavior, exactly, would demand such a response? There is a picture of him floating around the internet. He is wearing the Winter Carnival Queen 2020 sash and drinking what appears to be champaign from a bottle. The image, which was taken using the app Snapchat, carries the caption, “Here’s to being better than Greek life.”

Really, that’s all there is.

Metiva is a senior at Michigan Tech, which means, most likely, he is at least of age to drink alcohol. The “Snap” was taken by someone, likely a friend of Metiva’s, at a post competition celebration party.

The rules for Winter Carnival, which are included on the Michigan Tech website, have a four-rule conduct page. The first rule is a simple one which states: “Un-sportsmanlike conduct of any kind will not be tolerated and will result in disqualification from Winter Carnival competition and events, pending Blue Key Executive Board action. Harassment of judges or Blue Key members will not be tolerated.” I suppose that an image of Metiva enjoying an alcoholic beverage while a friend pokes at Greek life in a caption could be construed as unsportsmanlike, but it is a stretch.

The second rule might be the one that applies to this situation: “No alcohol or intoxication is allowed at any Winter Carnival event. Disorderly conduct can result in disqualification.” The problem with enforcing this rule, the party was not an officially-sanctioned Winter Carnival event, therefor, this rule should not apply.

The 2020 edition of Winter Carnival has already seen its fair share of controversy prior to this whole event thanks to an issue with the logo. Since the theme is “Discover what shines from prehistoric times,” having a dinosaur, a mammoth, and a caveman with a spear made sense. The remade version of the logo removed the caveman and added a grass patch in the shape of the U.P.

With all of this controversy, it appears as though Michigan Tech hopes that this will all blow over with the conclusion of this week. However, this is when university leadership needs to step up and get a handle on what is happening on campus. Snap decisions are not what are best for everyone involved. It is time for cooler heads to prevail.

Daver Karnosky is the managing editor of the Daily Mining Gazette. He a graduate of Michigan Tech University as well as Houghton High School.

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