The winner of the Mr. and Miss UCF Scholarship Pageant will no longer automatically go on to compete in the Miss Florida pageant, after the UCF decided not to comply with certain Miss America policies.
A UCF student, junior journalism major Alma Hill, was accepted into the Miss UCF pageant, but does not meet the requirements to compete in the Miss Florida or Miss America pageant because she has a 2-year-old son.
Originally, Hill was told she could not compete in the competition, but OSI Director of Communications David Oglethorpe said that was due to a miscommunication, and the pageant has backed Hill and decided not to file the paperwork to be an automatic bid.
"Our Miss UCF does not run under the same rules as the Miss Florida pageant," Oglethorpe said. "At OSI we strive to be inclusive and provide opportunities for all students."
Thus, Hill was reinstated into the competition. Contestants used to be required to sign a contract to compete in the Miss UCF pageant that states that they meet the requirements of the Miss America pageant, but Hill said she did not meet requirements.
Now, Hill will still compete in the pageant and has the support of UCF.
"I'm still running," Hill said. "[UCF] has been very adamant about the fact that I deserve the opportunity to run, and that it's unfortunate that the Miss Florida pageant made the decision that it made. [UCF] continues to support my participation in the pageant which is more important to them than defending a rule that they don't feel reflects the universities opinions."
Miss America pageant rules state that a participant "must never have been married, nor had a marriage annulled. Must have never been pregnant. Must not be the adoptive parent of any child," according to Miss America's website. The Miss Florida pageant follows the rules of the Miss America pageant.
"All of the contestants in the local and state pageant must follow the rules of the Miss America pageant," executive director of the Miss Florida pageant Mary Sullivan said. "If they cannot meet them because of an eligibility concern, than they cannot compete."
On Tuesday, the Mr. and Miss UCF Pageant emailed the candidates to inform them of the change.
"The Miss Florida Organization has been supportive of and respects our decision to pursue this status," the email states."They have not excluded UCF from participation in the Miss Florida pageant. Should the winner of the 2015 Miss UCF pageant find that she wants to compete at the state level and is eligible, she will be able to enter under a separate agreement."