Justice

University of Alabama Sorority Recruitment Video Goes Viral, Gets Taken Down

The University of Alabama's Alpha Phi sorority house came under fire over the weekend after their recruitment video went viral and many criticized it for seeming shallow and bad for women.

The sorority went on to remove the video (although other YouTube users managed to repost it on different accounts first), then the group made its Instagram page and Facebook pages private, in addition to deleting its Twitter and Tumblr pages. The clip depicts a group of blonde women frolicking in white clothing, blowing glitter, dancing, and walking outside in swimsuits, one of which bears the word "blessed," which the internet has mocked mercilessly over the past year.

Deborah Lane, associate vice president for university relations, went on to release a statement of apology on behalf of the University of Alabama, "This video is not reflective of UA’s expectations for student organizations to be responsible digital citizens. It is important for student organizations to remember what is posted on social media makes a difference, today and tomorrow, on how they are viewed and perceived."

An overlooked problem: The University of Alabama's history of sorority racial discrimination

Two years ago, the University of Alabama was accused of exercising racial bias in the sorority recruitment process. Nearly 20 former campus leaders came together to sign an ad in its student publication the Crimson-White in hopes of "publicly encourag[ing] diversity among the University's white and black Greek fraternities and sororities." According to the Huffington Post, University President Judy Bonner said race determined some of the sorority recruitment decisions on campus. Several sorority women came forward to say the system rejected a highly qualified Black female potential new member even though many members of the house had wanted her to join.

Last year, AL.com reported that Bonner responded to the fracas by implementing "an unorthodox late-stage bidding process, leading to more than 21 minority women accepting bids."

In fall 2014, things seemed to be looking up. Alabama Panhellenic Association President Hannah McBrayer told AL.com that the organization was doing more to promote diversity in sororities in the aftermath of the controversy.

"I'd say we're being a lot more proactive this year to make sure the pool is diverse and we are including everybody," she said in a UA-recorded video message. "Definitely being more proactive is something that has been different and can only bring positive change. The integrity of the membership pledgeship process is definitely very important here at the University of Alabama. Each organization will have a nation representative just to ensure we keep the integrity. On the chapter side as well, making sure that the mutual selection process is kept pure and chapters are recruiting based on their national membership standards [is important]."

Responses to the video

The website BroBible, which caters to fraternity culture, showered the video with praise in an all caps headline reading, "LOOK AT ALL THE HOT BLONDE SORORITY GIRLS IN THIS ALABAMA SORORITY RECRUITMENT VIDEO!!!!"

"We’re done for sorority recruitment videos now," BroBible's senior editor Brandon Wenerd wrote last week. "Alpha Phi at the University of Alabama has officially dropped the hottest one on the planet. Time for all the other sorority sweethearts around the country to save their Final Cut drafts, pack up our things, and chill with some sangria ’round the house. No one is ever going to top this. There’s like three brunettes in the entire video. I feel bad for them. I’m amazed they even got a bid."

Many, however, did not share BroBible's enthusiasm for the video. Magazine editor A.L. Bailey wrote for AL.com that she found it atrocious and worse for women's rights than Donald Trump, who was criticized during the most recent presidential debate for his previous comments about women. Bailey added that the video feels forced and is lacking in diversity.

“It’s all so racially and aesthetically homogeneous and forced, so hyper-feminine, so reductive and objectifying, so Stepford Wives: College Edition,” Bailey wrote. “It’s all so… unempowering.”

Bailey predicted that the video would succeed in arousing men on the Internet (BroBible) but not in attracting diverse potential new sorority members.

"Are they recruiting a diverse and talented group of young women embarking on a college education?" Bailey wrote. "Upon first or even fifth glance, probably not. Hormonal college-aged guys? Most assuredly yes. Older, male YouTube creepers? A resounding yes."

Former child actress Mara Wilson weighed in regarding sorority videos at large, noting a lot of people dump on Greek life but that this video reeked of "mandatory fun":

How others reacted