Calendar bares U women, not U logo

A student group gained real marketing experience in the past year by putting together a calendar composed of provocatively clad female students from the U.

The project didn’t sit well with some at the school who were concerned about the way the calendar objectifies women.

“I don’t see a problem with (the models) depicting themselves any way they want to, but as far as projecting the university in that manner, I wouldn’t particularly have been excited,” said University of Utah President Michael Young. “It does have the capacity to objectify women in ways that many consider problematic, and I understand those concerns. Moreover, this isn’t the aspect of our women students that most represents their engagement with the university or our goals for them.”

But Steve Court, president of the calendar’s sponsoring corporation, BullsEye Enterprises, said the calendar was sensitive to demographics at the U and the organizers’ efforts are being overshadowed by negativity.

“I’ve been a little bit disgruntled about the people and their reactions. People judge it for its moral insignificance rather than its merit,” Court said. “We could have chosen 12 cookie-cutters or playmates, but we chose diversity to show the U as a whole and not just 12 gorgeous women. There’s a diversity in their race and intelligence.”

Debra Daniels, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said the calendar would have been more effective if it portrayed women in an academic way.

“On a college campus, I’d like to see us looking at women from multiple disciplines-particularly in those nontraditional disciplines,” she said. “I just think that’s almost a clich way of doing it?When women look for a way to represent themselves or come up with a fund-raiser or something like this, they fall to that because that’s the thing that sells.”

At least one of the models said the calendar is intended to be visually appealing.

She added that the small blurb accompanying her photo did not express who she is.

Nidzara Pecenkovic, a senior in philosophy and English and Ms. September in the calendar, came to the United States from Bosnia when she was 10 years old.

The paragraph cites her home nation, saying, “Nidzara hails all the way from Bosnia to Utah, and thankfully so. Her ambition, beauty and intelligence will take her to places most others only dream of.”

Although she had many interviews and submitted written statements to Curtis Rochette, U alumnus and mastermind behind the calendar, she said, “he made it short.”

“It didn’t reflect the interviews. Other things I do reflect me as a person, but maybe those things are secondary in a calendar like this,” Pecenkovic said. “I don’t think one picture can reflect who I am as a person. I think one of the main goals was to make this appealing to the eye.”

Pecenkovic wore a bikini and posed in what she described as a “cold” fountain outside the Marriott Library last spring as curious people walked by, staring and wandering over to see what was going on.

The process that eventually yielded the calendar began after Rochette brainstormed a business project with his professor in a marketing vision class during the 2004 Summer Semester. Soon after, Rochette began recruiting women for the calendar, which he said he hoped would tout the beauty of some of the women at the U while pointing out that they are also students.

In Fall Semester 2004, Rochette formed a student group called “The Venture” and began interviewing on campus in search of the “most charismatic and confident” students to model in his calendar. Rochette said he wanted women from “a diversity of majors and colors” to appeal to a broad market.

Rochette said he took into account other factors such as whether the women had boyfriends or families who would be opposed to their appearing in a calendar.

But when everything seemed to be off to a smooth start, Rochette hit his first snag when he approached U Licensing Administrator Shane Hinckley for rights to use the block letter U logo on the product.

Hinckley and his boss, Auxiliary Services Director Earl Clegg, deemed the calendar too risqu and said they could not attach the university’s name or logo to it.

Hinckley said at first he was happy to help Rochette with the idea, but when he saw the nature of the calendar, it was obvious the administration would not want the U associated with the product.

“If it was just a photo of students on their way to class and it talked about them-in other words, less of a pin-up calendar and more of a who’s-who calendar-that may have been different,” Hinckley said. “But it was just the general nature of the photographs.”

Hinckley said there are a few simple restrictions he must consider when giving rights to the U logo. It cannot be used on alcohol, tobacco or firearms.

But, Hinckley added, “We’re also trying to stay away from things that may be derogatory. I have to make a judgment call on whether it’s appropriate.”

When they were denied use of the logo, Rochette and co-creator and Ms. October Crystal Flynn said the calendar became “a lot less modest.”

“You have to have a reason to buy a calendar, and if you don’t have the University of Utah logo on it, then you have to have another reason for it to sell,” Flynn said. “We didn’t want to go too far. We didn’t do any provocative positions because we didn’t want to portray girls that way. These are students; they’re intelligent girls, and they are beautiful. We wanted to be respectful of that.”

Despite the controversy and inability to use the U logo, University Bookstore is carrying the calendar.

U student Jeff Smith, a senior in economics, said he could see why the U wouldn’t want its logo on the calendar, but agreed with the bookstore’s decision to sell the calendar on campus nonetheless.

“It’s free speech, it’s fine,” he said. “I don’t think it should be condemned or reprimanded.”

Controversy aside, in September 2005, after a year of photo sessions, the group had assembled the calendar, titled “On Campus @ Utah.” Rochette and Flynn say they are happy with the final product.

The models were also paid $25 an hour for their time, or they could receive a DVD to use for their modeling portfolios.

Natalie Lindsay, a sophomore studying communication and Ms. May, said most of the women, including herself, chose the money because they were not pursuing modeling.

Pecenkovic said she was a little hesitant at first about appearing in the calendar and that her family wondered how it would reflect on her. But she said the end result “was pretty classy” and her family supported her.

Nidzara Pecenkovic, a senior in philosophy and English and Ms. September in the calendar, came to the United States from Bosnia when she was 10 years old.