Harvard Will Host 'Parade of Stars'

Whip out the tuxes and rev up your limos. An Oscar-style awards show called the "Parade of Stars" is coming to Harvard.

This spring, the Parade of Stars committee--a new organization on campus still awaiting final administration approval--says it will put on an awards ceremony to recognize what it calls "the best groups on campus."

The committee--founded by Chetanna Okasi '98 and Joshua D. Powe '98 will give out awards for such categories as "Best A Cappella Group" and "Best Periodical."

The ceremony--which will be hosted by celebrities--is being planned for Sanders Theatre this May, Okasi said.

Okasi and Powe said the Parade of Stars will be a Harvard version of award shows such as the MTV Music Awards or the Academy Awards. Okasi is former president of Black Community and Student Theater (C.A.S.T.) and founder of the Eleganza Fashion Show, which is sponsored each year by Black C.A.S.T

Okasi, the parade's president, said she originally wanted to organize a pageant along the lines of a Mr. and Ms. Harvard contest. But then she said she realized that "the qualities we would be looking for [in a pageant contestant] go beyond that."

"There is excellence everywhere," she said. "There is so much [excellence] on this campus that one feels obligated to highlight it all."

Thus was born the Parade of Stars.

Okasi said the ceremony's winners will be chosen by an elaborate judging process consisting of on-line student voting and input from a committee of Harvard faculty and staff.

The Parade of Stars committee said it envisions the event as both a "reward system" recognizing the accomplishments of student organizations and "an exciting grand finale" for the year.

Okasi said awards will be given out by celebrity guests and that the event will be funded by corporate sponsorship. Any proceeds from the event will go to charity, she said.

There are neither celebrity guests nor corporate sponsors lined up at this moment.

Some students responded to the idea of the parade with cynicism.

"Of course it's a popularity contest," said Douglas B. Rand '98. "Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that."

But Okasi said she hopes that the Parade will be more than that.

"There is inevitably going to be bias," she said. "The goal, however, is to get as fair of a judging process as we can."

Moreover, Okasi said the awards show will encourage student organizations to strive for excellence. Too often, she said, student organization leaders become inactive after their election.

Sara L.M. Chun '98 said a Parade of Stars is unnecessary.

"I definitely feel that extracurricular activities should be a reward in and of themselves," she said.

But negative feedback has not deterred the committee from beginning its work. Detailed plans for corporate sponsorship and technical logistics are already underway.

The committee has also approached other campus organizations, such as the Undergraduate Council and the Harvard Media Network, for co-sponsorship.

According to the council's Campus Life Committee co-chair, Samuel C. Cohen '00, the council's co-sponsorship would involve only lending the council's name to the event.

A bill authorizing the council's co-sponsorship, written by Cohen and his committee co-chair Trevor S. Blake '00, passed unanimously through the committee last night.

Cohen wholeheartedly supports the idea of the council's co-sponsorship for the parade.

"I think it's a great way to recognize people on this campus and to unify the campus," he said.

The bill comes up before the council plenary body at its meeting this upcoming Sunday.