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by M. B. Hintikka

from Gregory Severance's files

two pages stapled together
typed single spaced
found in October 1997
in the pocket of a spiral notebook

cover of the spiral notebook is emblazoned with
an fsu seminoles logo

Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida
PHI 2100 (page 19)
Fall Quarter 1980
3 November 1980
M. B. Hintikka

Topic for Fifth Paper: Due 10 November 1980

On Wednesday, 15 October 1980, Bill Wade won the Homecoming Princess election by 150 votes in an election which drew a record number of students (about 5,200 by contrast to about 3,000 in recent years). His election was not without consequence: Alumni director Bob Shackleton said that he feared some of the wealthy, tradition-minded alumni might be unwilling to give money to a school which would elect a man as Homecoming Princess. And the five top vote-getters for chief, as well as three of the four runners-up for Princess said that they would boycott Homecoming activities if Wade was crowned at halftime of the Homecoming game, as traditionally the Princess has been crowned.

Wade has been quoted as saying "I ran for Homecoming Princess to express the sentiment of people on this campus that Homecoming usually comes down to a popularity contest, or a beauty contest. I also am making a personal protest, that the people that have been elected in the past are sexist stereotypes. Look at their campaign posters--they are not portrayed as people, they are portrayed as faces, as bodies. I don't think that's right ... I am not out to make a mockery or a farce of Homecoming. The majority of the people on this campus want to express this sentiment, and they have a right to express it." Wade was also quoted as indicating explicitly that he wanted to protest the sexist stereotypical roles where chiefs tended to be very macho and princesses very passive.

In the two days between the announcement of election results and the occurrence of Homecoming activities, an agreement identified as a compromise by both FSU Homecoming Committee and American Civil Liberties Union attorneys representing Wade was reached. Under the terms of that agreement, Wade would not participate in the Homecoming parade, although the Homecoming Princess traditionally has ridden in that parade. And Wade would not be crowned at halftime of the Homecoming game, although that has been the traditional occasion for crowning the Homecoming Princess. Rather, Wade would be crowned at the Homecoming Pow Wow held on the night before the Homecoming game. At the various events which he would not attend as Homecoming Princess, Wade was assured that no one would take his place, and it was agreed that he would be announced as Homecoming Princess during halftime of the Homecoming game.

Bob Shackleton, who served as chair of the Homecoming committee as well as director of the Alumni Association, indicated that Wade was legally correct in his running for the office of Homecoming Princese; he added that the compromise helped to alleviate some of his concerns concerning prominent contributors who had been calling and threatening not to continue their support if Wade were to continue as Princess.

In fact, Wade was crowned by Phil Barco, a Homecoming Committee member, when Robert Urich, who was scheduled to crown the Princess did not appear for the ceremony. And Wade did not participate in the parade. However at least one float in the parade carried a sign reading "Vive Le Billie" (a reference to the alias 'Billie Dahhling' which appeared on the ballot along with Wade's legal name), while another featured Mickey Mouse raising a single finger in the direction of 'Billie" in what is characteristically acknowledged to be an obscene gesture and still another conveyed the sense of "excrement on Billie" by using a more colloquial expression for excrement.

No doubt other facts about this situation are available to some or to all. I have chosen from those characterized either by the Florida Flambeau or the Tallahassee Democrat in the days immediately following the election. During that discussion, Wade said that he was a homosexual but that that fact was not intended to be an issue in his campaign, a claim supported by the numbers of voters who were not aware of Wade's sexual preference at the time of the election. However, Wade's homosexuality has become an issue following the election, with several students quoted as making obscene remarks in that regard and others having adorned Wade's door with epithets which refer negatively to his homosexuality. And as recently as Sunday, 2 November 1980, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that someone had written "fag death" on his door with shaving cream and that someone had carved "die fag" on his door with a sharp instrument. Commenting on the various reactions, Wade said that he "just really didn't expect people in a university atmosphere to be this immature. In order to be tolerant of people who are different than you are, you have to have maturity, intellignece, and self-awareness, and that's what this campus lacks."

Even the Tallahassee Democrat itself is still in the act as recently as Sunday, 2 November 1980, with executive editor Walker Lundy writing 'The Seminoles, at least the narrow-minded fringe among them, couldn't handle it (Wade's election as Princess). Some of them have tried to hurt him physically. They have harassed him, urinated on the floor outside his dorm room, spit on him, threatened him and generally made him "pay" for his sin of winning the election. No one seemed upset at the FSU students who elected him. Instead they vented their bigotry on a 17 year-old boy. I forgot one other fact that seemd especially horrible to the students at PSU. Bill Wade is a quick, Betty Lou, turn the newspaper - H-O-M-O-S-E-X-U-A-L. Several campus groups and eight of the nine other members of the Homecoming court threatened to stay home and pout if Wade was permitted to enjoy his fairly won election victory. Even the famed Marching Chiefs, one of the proudest symbols of the university, refused to march unless Wade was given the boot. The intimidation worked. Rather than destroy Homecoming (something the groups apparently were willing to do), Wade agreed not to appear at the parade or at the football game halftime with the rest of the Homecoming court. But those people who gathered alone Monroe street to watch the parade -- some with their children -- were treated to students carrying a sign with Mickey Mouse making an obscene gesture and a truckload of students shouting various obscenities to the crowd about Wade. It is true that FSU's Homecoming was embarrassing this year. But it wasn't Bill Wade's actions that made it so." And in a news story, the same paper reports that it has received a request from a Los Angeles film production company for copies of the stories published about Wade. "I think it's an interesting story," the company representative said. "A TV movie?" the representative was asked. "It's a possibility," was the reply.

Your fifth should be the approximate equivalent in length of two typewritten pages. In your paper, you may assume whatever perspective you wish in order to address the question "What should I (the person whose perspective you assume] have done or do now about this situation. For example, you may assume Wade's perspective, that of a successful candidate for the Homecoming Court, that of a student voter, that of a newspaper writer explaining the situation to the world outside FSU, that of an editorial writer such as Lundy, that of someone trying to raise money through alumni contributions, that of a prospective candidate for next year's Homecoming Court. Your primary task, whatever the perspective you assume, is to bring to bear the facts available to you in support of your decision. If there are facts about the matter which are not known to you and which would be relevant to your decision, you should indicate what you would need to know to support your decision and how these facts are relevant (that is, how would your decision be different if the facts were one way rather than another which you can imagine). Remember that each of you is a student who was entitled to vote in the election. If no other perspective appeals to you, you may always take your own, supporting the vote you cast, why you didn't vote, or how you would vote if you had another opportunity to cast a ballot in the Homecoming election.

[among the remarks which I failed to quote are the following from attorneys representing Wade: "The integrity of the electoral process was involved. The precedent was that if the person who is elected is not palatable to those in power, they can force him to resign, That's a significant issue. To deny him participation in the activities would be like disenfranchising the student body."]

--M. B. Hintikka

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