Peterhouse students vote to keep controversial drag pageant

Lili Bidwell 15 March 2016

Following a referendum, students at Peterhouse have voted to keep the ‘Miss Peterhouse’ event. The event, a drag pageant held by the JCR each year, had recently faced calls for it to be scrapped, led by the Women's and LGBT+ representatives. 

The results of the referendum were close, with 48.51% voting in favour of the pageant, 41.58% opposing it, and 9.9% blank votes. As Peterhouse is a small college, this meant there were just 7 more votes in favour of keeping ‘Miss Peterhouse’ than there were against it.

A referendum was called following a JCR open meeting where the issue was deemed to need the input of the wider student body. 

During the open meeting people suggested that the event could be made more inclusive and accepting, however some questioned whether this could be possible. Stevie Hertz, Women’s officer, said that “in a post-feminist, post-transphobic world it could be wonderful" but presently, it was likely to alienate already marginalised people.

Further to this, JCR LGBT+ Officer Julian Sutcliffe commented "as LGBT+ Representative, it is my task to speak out against events which have the potential to be alienating, and this bop has been attacked as transphobic and misogynistic."

Yet he also added, "the current Ents Officer has some very promising ideas of how to make it an inclusive event, in the manner of Clare's 'Rainbow Bop', and I am optimistic that there can be a sufficient degree of sensitivity and respect."

The JCR President Frances Hawker, had previously commented to The Cambridge Student, that the Open Meeting "decided that we should take into account the opinion of the whole College,” and therefore the referendum was organised. The JCR themselves remained neutral, saying that the aim was “to establish the thoughts of as many individuals as possible, the JCR will not be campaigning as a body.” 

She has not yet responded for comment in the wake of the result.