“Compliment Guys” at Purdue

“Tired of people being so down in the dumps amid the worst economy in decades, [Purdue University] sophomores Cameron Brown and Brett Westcott—better known as the “Compliment Guys”—have taken it upon themselves to cheer up the campus. From 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. every Wednesday, they stand outside the chemistry building in the shadow of the university’s Bell Tower with their ‘Free Compliments’ sign.” Read the full article at the Chicago Tribune.

Kate Harding over at Salon.com’s Broadsheet writes, “I don’t doubt that Brown and Westcott’s intentions are pure — they sound like friendly young men trying to do a nice thing. And several people interviewed, male and female, said they enjoy the Compliment Guys. But still, if their reasoning for doing this is that “not enough people do nice things anymore,” I can think of a zillion ways for them to give back to their community that don’t involve mimicking street harassment, with only a sign to distinguish them from the jerks who will turn around and call you a fat fucking skank if you don’t act sufficiently flattered.”

I agree with Kate that it’s a tough call deciding if their behavior is appropriate or not. Most people in the Chicago Tribune article said they liked the compliments. But as I’ve said before, even if it’s a “compliment,” not everyone wants to be shouted at or commented on. If it was my campus, I’d probably avoid the area where they stand on Wednesday afternoons. I’d feel more comfortable if they were standing with signs with positive messages or they could hand out gender-neutral, person-neutral messages – “enjoy your day,” “good luck in class,” “have a nice afternoon” instead of loudly calling attention to certain aspects or characteristics of a person passing by. But maybe I’m just more introverted than most.

What are your thoughts?

2 Responses to “Compliment Guys” at Purdue

  1. Golden Silence says:

    I think their idea is coming from a good place, but I agree with the fact that I’m so used to getting these “compliments” from random men trying to flirt with me that I’ve become disdainful towards receiving any kind of attention. Signs and flyers related to the college life (“Pass your exams!” “Good luck trying out for the basketball team!” or whatever) is a smart idea.

  2. b says:

    I’d be a little spooked and/or peeved by the idea of a “free compliment.” Do you really need to advertise your assessment as a service, including one free of charge? They certainly wouldn’t draw in a woman like me, but then, I don’t need for strange men to make me feel better about myself with empty assumptions about who I am or how I look. Nothing about this feels okay. Doesn’t hurt that I’m from around there, so I sort of feel like I can fully hate on this😉

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