University Program Council member said she was escorted out of pageant

by Editor-in-Chief Jasmine Fleming

While senior Victoria Roose received the Miss UNA 2017 crown onstage Jan. 21, University Program Council member Briana Tanner said her experience was less pleasant backstage.

Tanner, who said Student Government Association President Sarah Green asked her to be the social media coordinator for the event, said in a Facebook Live video that she was kicked out of the pageant.

SGA and Creative Jewelers sponsor the event, and it is under the division of student affairs, according to the UNA website.

Green said she would discuss the situation with a university official before providing a comment.

“I was backstage, I was with the girls of the pageant, I was doing things that I thought I was supposed to do as the coordinator,” Tanner said. “I was then told because I went on the side of the stage and I took a live video of the audience that I would need to leave. I was told by the backstage person that I was going to need to be from backstage and that I was going to need to be escorted out.

“As I tried to figure out what I did wrong or if I did anything wrong, they began to tell me that they didn’t have to tell me what I did or why I was being asked to leave from backstage.”

Tanner said someone came to escort her from the backstage area, however, she needed to gather her belongings.

“My things were in the Miss UNA dressing room, my bag and my jacket, and as I went to get my things, I was told I couldn’t even go in there to get my own personal things,” she said. “And as I explained to the man who escorted me out, he was telling me I couldn’t go in there.”

She said she was later allowed to gather her things. Afterward, she said she contacted her adviser.

“Instead of him trying to resolve the situation, he just invited me back to the show,” she said. “It’s very disheartening to know that even with all of the efforts I do for the university, and as I serve the university and even though I do things to bring change to the university, that tonight, the university that I love and that I serve so proudly escorted me out without even an explanation as to what I did wrong, for a job that I was asked to do.”

As of Jan. 24 at 4:20 p.m., the video has received 9,500 views, 205 shares and 68 comments.

“President (Kenneth) Kitts has been notified of the incident and the video,” said Bryan Rachal, director of university communications. “He takes this matter seriously and has directed (Vice President of Student Affairs David) Shields to conduct an investigation with assistance from Chief Diversity Officer Amber Fite-Morgan and Chief Enrollment Officer Ron Patterson.”

Kitts has requested a briefing once they complete the investigation, Rachal said.

Editor’s Note: Stick with the Flor-Ala for updates to this story.