Syracuse University student Alex Purdy quit her sorority. And then she exposed it in a passionate video, detailing real-world examples of “mean-girl” behavior inside a private, secretive, sisterhood. As a proud sorority alumna and sorority membership advocate for more than two decades, I have to applaud her. And here is why.
Purdy successfully accomplished what few others have.
You see, ever since the release of the movie Animal House (1978), mainstream media reporting about sororities has been hyper focused on bad behavior. Matt Lauer, host of the NBC’s Today Show agrees, stating, “Unfortunately [sororities] end up on this show generally and other shows like it when they do things that are disappointing.”
Negative media reports covering collegiate fraternal groups (sororities included) tend to draw more clicks than the same stories without mention of the fraternity or sorority, Notice, next time you see such a story, that the same story, without the tantalizing mention of sorority or fraternity, is quite pedestrian.
Purdy’s video, which most certainly divulged bad behavior, went viral and quickly garnered national medial coverage. The American hivemind typically uses such a feat to salaciously demonize sorority members. If you’ve ever read the comments, you’ve seen the legions of haters who descend on the topic with the typical pejorative narrative along the lines of, “Sorority girls are cruel, critical people.”
“Choose to act with love in your heart.”
– Alex Purdy, Former Sorority Member, Syracuse University
But that didn’t happen. Rather, social and mainstream media responded to Purdy’s video and hashtag, #SororityRevamp, has honored her request to respond with compassion. Why? Purdy’s message was crafted so well and so authentically that it has had, more than anything else, a positive result. I can’t think of another time that this has happened.
Sorority members, journalists, and special interest groups alike followed Purdy’s prompt to respond with simple acknowledgement and solutions. They acknowledged that the sorority experience can be improved – starting with a dialogue on compassion. NBC’s TODAY SHOW picked up the story and spent the better part of an entire segment highlighting the value and benefits of sorority membership.
This is remarkable.
Purdy could not have known what the reaction to her video would have been. She risked an extreme backlash which could have included being shunned, bullied, or worse. Nonetheless, she acted with maturity, integrity, grace, courage, and most importantly, love in her heart.
What does this say about Purdy? Her clarity in the reasons she joined as well as the reasons she resigned signals her confidence. Her diligence in explaining the problem shows thoughtfulness. Her decision not to name the sorority or individual members shows compassion and respect. It shows leadership. It shows the love in her heart, not only for the women in her former sorority chapter, but also for the future members.
What can we take away from this?
Finally, Alex Purdy, I salute you and your courageous dedication to improving the experience of those who follow in your foot steps. You are everything the sorority community needs. You are everything society needs, for that matter. Applause, applause, applause.
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Sunday Tollefson is the author of “RUSH RIGHT: Reveal Your Best YOU During Sorority Recruitment” and the founder of SureSister. Sunday is a violin player, a pinochle daredevil, and a loud clapper. She holds a bachelors degree from the University of Washington and a masters degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
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