Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.47.22 AMPhylise Bowens is suing Bethune-Cookman after being told she needed to lose weight before trying out for their dance team. Bowens, who was a student in their master’s program, wanted to try out for 14K Gold Dancers but apparently was 20 pounds too heavy.

“I did everything, I worked out five days a week morning and night,” Bowens told ClickOrlando.

Even after losing the weight, they still denied her.

“To ask me to lose weight in order to join an organization that’s hazing — you cannot do that,” Bowens said.

Bowens’ attorney said the university is in violation and they’re asking for a refund of the $15,000 tuition.

“Our attorneys and administration are currently investigating this matter,” the university said in a statement. “B-CU is an equal opportunity institution and encourage all students to be actively involved in our campus extracurricular offerings.”

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  • I think she’s mad because the assumed promise that she would make it if she made the team is the issue. They should never say anything other than, “Thanks for trying out.”

  • [email protected]

    There is certainly more to this story. I wonder what the
    policy is for the tryouts and I wonder what the University will do about this
    situation in the future. It will be an uphill battle for Phylise Bowens, because she wants the University
    to refund the $15,000 tuition. According to Bowens, she lost weight and still
    wasn’t in the dance team. I have looked at the story and I see her current
    picture. She looks very beautiful and she obviously lost weight. So far, Bethune-Cookman University is
    investigating the matter. She’s a citizen, so Bowens has the right to sue. Bowens
    will have difficulties in the lawsuits, because people are picked (or not
    picked) for dance teams hypothetically not just on weight, but on experience,
    talent, tryout performance, and other factors. The case will revolve on University policy,
    tryout criteria, and current people on the current dance team itself. Regardless
    if Bowens is right or wrong, one thing is clear. We must condemn lookism in
    strong terms. Lookism is evil and people (regardless of physical appearance or
    weight) have human dignity and are entitled to respect.

    • noirluv45

      Very well put, truth.

    • [email protected]

      Thank you Sister.

    • I somewhat agree but most of you in you youth were victim of a very dangerous trend that was what every you participated in win loose or draw everybody got a trophy, no matter how much you sucked you got a trophy, then when you got in middle and high school almost everybody made the team no matter how horrible you perform [only the worst of the worst got cut] now in college this young women thinks it’s the same as in grade school, middle school and high school and is hurt or get offended because in real competition you must perform you most compete for a spot and she can’t cut-it, but thinks she is entitle to a spot on the team just because she paid her tuition. The sad thing is her generation was not taught that this is a competitive world we live in, like it or not, it ain’t going to change NOT EVER, in this life their are winners and losers sometime you win and sometimes you loose you pick yourself up come back and try again, work harder, do better now in her view you don’t try harder you pout then file a law suit, that mentality is loose loose for black people cause we can do better.

    • [email protected]

      I will make a judgment on whether she is right or wrong at this stage. This is the beginning in my opinion of the controversy. At the crux of the matter deals with the University policy and the criteria of how the selection of dance members came about. I assume that the criteria will be more than weight, but talent level, tryout performance, experience, and other factors. The University is doing the wise thing by investigating this situation without making a strong statement either way. The woman certainly has a difficult situation, because he wants a refund of the tuition.

      Also, another point is to be made. No black person (regardless the station in his or her life) should be degraded in his or her human dignity. I don’t care what a document says, I don’t care what law says, etc. No document made from human hands will make me believe in lookism. Also, imperfections will exist in society, but people can change things in society. Many years ago, there was the Memphis sanitation workers suffering unjust firing, massive layoffs, discrimination, and police brutality. These people were not “losers.” They were victims of a reactionary power structure who wanted to impose an unjust system. Our ancestors were oppressed by slavery. They weren’t “losers.” They were victims. That is why workers used strikes, lawsuits, and protests as a means for people to defend the economic and human rights of those protesters. No one is saying that all people can do all things. There are people gifted in certainly things that other people are not. People fail in certain times. Yet, equality doesn’t mean that all are identical. It means that all have the same human value. Reasonable competition should never be used as an excuse to justify oppression. What people are saying that unfair discrimination, racism, etc. must be opposed, and eliminated completely. Also, she has a legal right to sue. That’s part of the law. Many poor people work super hard, but they are treated badly by the system. Therefore, we can do better by not following Objectivism, but following altruism and opposing selfish individualism. Freedom is won by struggle and actively opposing injustice politically (not just by embracing the Knowledge of Self which we must do).

      The world can change. History as proven that. 160 years ago, slavery was legal. Now, it’s not.

    • brother that a good political correct comment what office are you running for LOL…. Life is not fair, in this life everybody won’t win, everybody can’t have a spot on the team, everybody can’t or won’t have a good paying job if they want one, in this life you must as our ancestors use to say “you must get up early” be smart study, must work hard and distinguish yourself, you must qualify to have a “chance” for the job or position or a spot, so the biggest mistake we can make is to let our children and young people feel entitled and somebody will care about their hurt feelings just because they are humans that’s a bunch of crap it’s gas. Away with the hypersensitivity, away with this cry baby, away with this whining, away with this touches feelings away with that carp, that crap is for losers, me and my children are thick skin winners. Peace out brother.

    • [email protected]

      We will agree to disagree with some issues. Fighting against economic injustice is not equivalent to having a “cry baby” mentality. I don’t equate people opposing black people being killed in the streets unjustly as someone playing some “woe is me” role. Oppose terrorists cops is the right thing to do. My examples are very historical. I stand by my core convictions. Many people have worked hard, studied, and follow all of that American pie stuff and still suffer oppression. The question is not whether people should study, never give up, or work hard. We should. People from across the political spectrum believe in fair play, hard work, perseverance, and human sacrifice. The question is whether we ignore oppression or we don’t. I choose to not ignore oppression. Life is not totally fair, but people have the right to fight for justice. It is clear that humanity will have different gifts. Not all people will do all things and I have made that clear. None of my words call for stagnation.

      I have always called for any black person to follow their dreams with strong activism, self-determination, never giving up, etc. I just reject the lie that if we ignore racism and discrimination, then all of our problems will go away. No, we need economic justice and racial justice if we are to be free. The human dignity of anyone should not be degraded. There should be rewards for excellence. No one reasonable disagrees with you on that point. My words aren’t politically correct. What is truly political correct is for some to follow some economic system unconditionally that oppressed our ancestors. African culture deals with community collaboration not cutthroat capitalism.

    • binks

      But that is the thing BurningBush she WAS NOT EVEN allowed to apply or tryout for a spot at all. If she just plain sucked regardless of her weight than I agree she shouldn’t be looking for handouts or sympathy but to cut someone BEFORE the process of actually applying for a spot and trying out based on what they look like and give someone stipulations blurs the line here. How do the band director or the squad know she was a terrible dancer or not if she never got on the floor to compete during auditions? As I mention in my post, the band director dropped the ball here, because they should have given her an application regardless if she was 20lbs heavier at the time, let her apply and tryout and if she wasn’t good then let her be cut or if she was good and her weight was the problem then make some suggestions/decisions to her at that stage.

    • that’s fair and the way it should have been handle, very good points.

  • binks

    After listening to her interview and reading it in more details I do think she has a case. The band director dropped the ball here for A) not even giving her a chance to apply for a spot by denying her an application and 2) for not even letting her audition to see if she was up to par for the dance team so I can see if she feels some type of way. If her weight was a factor then that is something that should have came up DURING tryouts not before. Granted, I do agree with those who said that just because someone told you something like lose weight, take this class, or wear this to the interview doesn’t mean you automatically going to get the position it could be helpful advice. However, with this case it is muddy because she took the director’s advice and still wasn’t allowed to apply for a position and tryout for the squad. If this squad or the school handbook don’t have any stipulations or requirements in their contact or rules for joining an organization or team about weight, medical impairments, etc. then I could see the discrimination claim. So this will be interesting.