In advance of their annual Bid Day, in which prospective sorority members are told which sororities they’ve been accepted into, the University of Alabama’s Alpha Phi released a Bid video promoting their sorority, part of a longstanding tradition of sisterhood self-promotion. Dubbed by Total Frat Move as “a nuke on the recruitment game,” the video—which features mostly blonde young women frolicking around campus looking beautiful and having fun—received widespread attention, and then criticism, prompting the video to be deleted, and the women to shut down their social media presence.
The video was viewed over 500,000 times in a week, gaining more traction once it was picked up by The Daily Mail and other sources, before it appears to have been removed sometime Sunday. Prior to Saturday’s Bid Day, on Friday, guest contributor A.L. Bailey wrote an op-ed for AL.com, lambasting Alpha Phi for creating a video with “a clear sales pitch: beauty, sexuality, and a specific look above all. They’re selling themselves on looks alone, as a commodity. Sadly, commodities don’t tend to command much respect.”
Bailey only lightly touched on the diversity issues that have famously plagued the University of Alabama’s sororities in the past few years, writing, “Are they recruiting a diverse and talented group of young women embarking on a college education? Upon first or even fifth glance, probably not.” Though the video was pulled from YouTube by the sorority, it’s been uploaded by other users (you can view it above). Alpha Phi has also made both their Facebook page and Instagram feed private, and removed their Twitter account and (previously praised) Tumblr.
On Saturday, Alabama’s Associate Vice President for University of Relations Deborah Lane released a statement politely condemning the video:
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.
Alpha Phi wasn’t singled out specifically in the original Crimson White story from two years ago that re-upped attention to the homogeneity of Alabama’s sororities, but the social media presences of all sororities at the school have been carefully watched; one woman was kicked out Chi Omega last year for her decision to post a tasteless, racist Snapchat.
How diverse did Bid Day end up being? As AL.com reports, over 2,400 women participated, with 2,261 accepting bids, 214 of whom are minorities, according to the University. That compares to the 190 minorities who got bids last year. Update: In a press release, the University wrote:
Of the total number of women who accepted bids, 214 were minorities, a number that increased by nearly 13 percent. And, the number of African American students who received bids increased by 19 percent, to 25.
Additionally, “The University will no longer release a comprehensive list of pledges, a spokesperson citing ‘safety’ reasons said this week,” AL.com reported, a move in keeping with the school’s decision last year to limit “media access to rush organizers.”
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