Nina Davuluri, the current Miss America, was asked to prom by a student during an assembly. The student found his opportunity during a question and answer portion of the presentation. After popping the question, the student was taken to the office and given his fate. The student was handed a suspension which Miss America asked the school to reconsider, saying she thought the gesture was sweet.
Davuluri travels around the country giving speeches on a number of topics. She talks with students about diversity and the importance of subjects referred to as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). She had been visiting Central York High School in Pennsylvania when the student gave her a flower and asked her to prom.
The student had been pumping himself up for days, allowing other students to mount the pressure for him to follow through. The action took some courage, being that he asked in front of the entire school at the assembly. He was never able to get an answer due to the cheering from the other students. He had also asked for a “selfie” with Miss America, to which she responded, “maybe later.” Later never came for that student because he was in the office receiving his punishment. Later Davuluri said she would not have been able to attend the prom due to her travel schedule, but was flattered by the offer. The Facebook response to that statement continues to call for her to reconsider and attend.
The school took the students action seriously and suspended him for three days. It was reported that he had been warned by the school administration not to follow through with his plan. They had gotten wind of his intentions and wanted to prevent any disruption during the assembly. Even after being warned, the student found his spot and made his move. Unfortunately for him, this daydream did not play out publicly as it may have inside his head.
There are many who are voicing concern over the school imposing such a harsh penalty for what they believe to be an essentially harmless act. The school has rules which, critics concede, should be taken seriously, but there is growing support for the view that this student was just taking a chance, and that the type of initiative he demonstrated ought to be rewarded rather than punished. Handled differently, the same situation could have been turned into an object lesson on taking chances and following dreams.
The appeal for reconsideration of the suspension from Miss America has a growing number of people asking questions about the school, but also about the educational system in general. Whether the desire for conformity and order has trumped the development of initiative and innovation is a debate which may begin to re-surface in light of this new media attention. This teen may have touched a nerve with respect to how the current system prioritizes the lessons which American schools are teaching its students. Miss America may have inadvertently made herself a spokesperson for “common sense” educational policy.
Miss America gave a statement saying she thought the gesture was sweet and felt there was no harm in the act. Her assembly carried on without a hitch after wards and she was able to finish the message she came there to give. The student was apologetic to both the school and to Davuluri for the disruption. He stated he understood the reason behind the suspension and still plans to attend prom.
Social Media has fairly exploded in response to the suspension. The #FreePatty hashtag has seen increasing traffic as the debate has escalated and moved into the national conversation. A concerted effort from the “common sense” movement in support of Miss America defending Patrick Farves, and asking for the reversal of his suspension, is expected to mount in earnest over the next day.
Opinion by Jabar Morarend