People are pissed at one of Italy’s top universities.
During the first week of May, La Sapienza in Rome hosted an old-fashion beauty contest for female students. Though the concept was enough to raise more than a few eyebrows, organizers added an extremely offensive wrinkle to the competition: offering plastic surgery as the prizes. And, of course, there was a major backlash.
Following the Miss University 2015 pageant on May 6, several schools around Europe began petitioning to have La Sapienza’s rector, Eugenio Gaudio, terminated from his position, saying his decision to allow the event was just down right sexist.
“Since when in an academic environment is beauty considered important? The rector Gaudio has shamed the university and made it look ridiculous,” the petition read. “We believe you can no longer represent La Sapienza or Italian universities and for this we call on you to resign immediately.”
According to the Independent, organizers insisted that academic performance was the leading factor in deciding a winner, but would obviously take into account the women’s physical features. Because grades were considered, Gaudio said he was not sorry for his decision.
“The evening was not at all vulgar and the guests were treated extremely well,” he said in an interview with La Repubblica. “I fear that the controversy is being whipped up. We’ve never had this sort of fuss before. Even if it were ‘Mr University’ I would have attended.”
But it wasn’t a “Mr. University” contest, Gaudio. It was an offensive gimmick that put women as young as 19 on display, awarding the most “beautiful” participants with cosmetic surgery that they probably didn't need.
The winner of pageant was 19-year-old biological sciences student Valeria Belvedere, who failed to see the absurdity of the event, describing it as “a bit of fun.”