The University of Arkansas shelled out over $10,000 for a 60-minute Zoom drag performance for students.
According to Campus Reform, the school spent a total of $11,050 for a “virtual drag show” that only 38 students attended. The event was hosted by the school’s University Programs and featured six local drag artists.
A copy of the school’s contract shows that the school paid $10,000 to one drag performer alone, Jaida Essence Hall, who is best known for winning season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The additional $1,050 was given to drag queen Jeremy Stuthard.
The university’s Assistant Director of Strategic Communications Rebecca Morrison told Campus Reform that the funding came directly from student fees.
Campus Reform reported:
The dance portion of the show lasted less than an hour and included a wide range of performance styles. Performer Nikita Kakes danced to “Hush Hush” by The Pussycat Dolls, while Maddy Morphosis sang to a puppet during her performance of “Beauty and the Beast” from the Disney classic.
The show ended with a lip sync battle between multiple students where Jaida Essence Hall urged them to “change into something really cute,” put on a wig or put on handcuffs. The winner was given a prize. The contract reveals that this prize was provided by the university.
The University of Arkansas has a history of paying large sums of money to political figureheads and left-wing culture icons. In February, the school paid $20,000 for self-proclaimed communist Angela Davis to speak for 90 minutes. Approximately 30 minutes of the speech was a question-and-answer session.
The $20,000 bill for Davis came from the student activity fee as well. The university’s “Distinguished Lectures Committee,” which is led by students, brought Davis to campus. The committee claims that it brings “dynamic and pertinent speakers … to the University of Arkansas campus.”
Other universities have approved drag show events for students including Texas A&M University, the University of South Carolina, and MiraCosta College in California. At Texas A&M, a student group hosted a drag queen competition featuring RuPaul Drag Race’s Monique Hart. The event was hosted by several student groups as well as the school’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Resource Center.
At the University of South Carolina, students competed for the title of best amateur drag queen “Ms. Gaymecock Pageant.” According to a Facebook event page for the show, students were encouraged to bring $1 bills to the “Garden of Eden-themed show.” Contestants were judged based on the amount of money they raised.
One professor took it so far as to offer extra credit for an Anthropology class if students attended an on-campus LGBT talk featuring a drag show. The presentation featured 11 speakers that were slated to address “hetero-normative sexual education, the importance of a Pride center on campus, internalized homophobia, and much more.”
Following the presentation, MiraCosta College advertised that “entertainment will be provided in the form of drag performances, dance sets, and other types of artistic expression.”