2,261. The record-breaking number of women who chose to take part in formal sorority recruitment at University of Alabama this past week. According to the University of Alabama's Greek life page, “With more than 9,500 students, the Greek community comprises over 33 percent of the undergraduate student body and is home to 63 social Greek-letter organizations. Since fall 2011, the University has held the coveted honor of being the largest fraternity and sorority community in the nation with regard to overall fraternity and sorority membership.” The statistics are staggering to say the least. However, one sorority chapter has been under the microscope for their recruitment video, something every chapter at almost every school produces every year.
Alabama Alpha Phi has been slammed by the media for their production. AL.com writer A.L. Bailey called it "all so racially and aesthetically homogeneous and forced, so hyper-feminine, so reductive and objectifying, so Stepford Wives: College Edition." (www.today.com). In response, the chapter has shut down all social media accounts, and removed the video. The video received an astounding half a million views and then some before its removal. Other critics claimed that the video portrayed Greek life in a negative way, by promoting partying with no focus on education.
As a Greek woman who religiously watches every recruitment video ever made, I can say that I think the public is looking way too far into the nature of the video. I can also say that joining Greek life is a choice. And when A.L. Bailey calls the video “aesthetically homogeneous,” I find myself puzzled. Yes, many of the women look similar, but those are 75 women in one chapter at one school. Do they have any idea how large Greek life is on an international scale? Alabama, like every other university, has a non-discrimination notice for registered student organizations (aka Greek chapters). So let’s leave race out of this.
If you watch recruitment videos, there are other chapters at other schools who jump around in bikinis, and they aren’t on the news. The women in the video are beautiful, and if a freshman going through recruitment didn’t like their chapter, guess what, they don’t have to join! Nobody is being made to do anything. Another important fact to realize is that every chapter at every school is extremely different. Even on a national scale, Greek women are not the same from school to school because of the differences in campus culture. I know this first-hand because I am friends with other Alpha Phis at schools just as large and high profile as Alabama. In the South, Greek culture is huge. Greek lineage in families go back generations, while attending WMU in the Midwest, I am a first generation Greek. I could not imagine having 2000+ girls attend formal recruitment, compared to the 400 we have at WMU. The culture is just different.
Alabama did not need to be slammed because they created a video that broke the internet. I know I was one of many patiently waiting all summer for the bigger university’s recruitment videos to be released, Alabama’s included. Recruitment videos are exciting and fun to create for chapters, as a “sneak peek” for incoming freshmen. Alabama should not have felt the need to take the video down, their intentions were never meant to receive the criticism they did, no organization wants that. Regardless, the video is still one of my all-time favorites, and I hope the chapter decides up upload it again so I can watch the perfection another 100 times.