Shannon Workman, a junior at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, quit her sorority after it tried to expel her on the grounds that she wore a shirt that displayed her Greek letters in her profile picture on the dating app Tinder.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Workman said that she does not use the app as a so-called “hook-up site,” but the sorority’s skepticism of this claim was the cause of its outrage and ensuing membership revocation. The shirt she was wearing in the photo displayed the words “Sweet Home Chi Omega,” and the sorority was outraged about its association with the mobile app.
According to BuzzFeed, in a meeting with the sorority’s executive board, Workman was told her photo violated the sorority’s “Human Dignity” rule, which seems about as vague and flimsily justified in this case as it sounds. A further investigation of Workman’s case and her uses for Tinder may have been necessary and owed to Workman prior to her being kicked out of the sorority. When the sorority failed to execute such a process, fearing for its reputation, Workman refused to be humiliated any longer and stormed out of the meeting.
“I’m never coming back,” she told the executive board.
It’s interesting, however, that the sorority chose to make such a preemptive action in defense of its reputation but ultimately wound up ruining it much more profoundly than the Tinder profile photo ever could have. Would anyone ever have noticed and actually thought to themselves, “Wow, all Chi Omega girls use Tinder and that means they actively violate human dignity and are generally immoral people?” Probably not.
Regardless, Chi Omega made its move against Workman and somehow locked itself into an original form of checkmate. In the end, it was Workman who won.
Once Tinder heard of the story, the organization was so impressed and inspired by Workman’s loyalty to the app that it offered her a full year’s scholarship to cover the expenses of her senior year of college, as well as a paid internship with Tinder in California.
Let’s take a step back here, though. We don’t even know what Workman is studying, never mind if working for Tinder is something she is interested in. Additionally, there are thousands of students out there in desperate need of scholarships, and they work tirelessly to maintain high academic standards in order to keep the financial aid grants they received. This isn’t to accuse Workman of lacking in work ethic, nor to say that her bravery in a public issue should detract from her award, but it’s interesting to see how much communication industries like Tinder will give to those who offer them positive publicity. In the end, all she did was get irritated when her sorority told her what could and couldn’t be used as a profile picture online, and now she has stories in the press, support to back her up, a free year of college and a job lined up.
That’s a significant reward for a fairly small action.
From this story, the correlation between what constitutes as news and corporate organizations like Tinder becomes clear. When a college student who gets into an altercation with her sorority over social media finds herself on a national stage of news, it’s time for a change in what makes a story newsworthy.
So, yes, in the end we can learn from Workman by choosing to stand up for our beliefs. Apparently, we’ll be awarded greatly in the end for it. In the future, however, I think we ought to focus on more important issues out there, not just ones that happen by chance and create trivial industry or university scandals.