March 13, 2009
Purdue 'Compliment Guys' spread cheer across campusWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
Brett Westcott, a sophomore in civil engineering from Plainfield, Ill., and Cameron Brown, a sophomore in business management from Toledo, Ohio, stand on a prominent walkway at the center of campus every Wednesday and offer compliments to hundreds of passersby.
Westcott said he woke up with the idea at the beginning of the school year and quickly recruited his friend Brown.
"I love giving free compliments – there's nothing else I'd rather do," Westcott said. "The first day I was a little bit nervous because I wasn't sure how people were going to take it. But we've had a good response."
Westcott says the pair has given thousands of free compliments, sometimes requiring quick thinking and machine-gun delivery during busy passing periods. Typical objects of praise are people's shoes, pants, jackets, hats, sunglasses, scarves, backpacks, hairstyles and smiles.
"These guys brighten my day every Wednesday," said Rachel Taylor, a junior from Fairplay, Colo., who recently repaid a compliment on her plaid jacket with snack food she had purchased for herself. "They are so much fun!"
Some recipients adjust their pedestrian commutes just to receive and return the praise.
"Whatever they can come up with at the time they will compliment you on," said graduate student Richard Severe. "It feels good. I try to throw compliments back to acknowledge them."
The "Compliment Guys" are not affiliated with any group and, contrary to conjecture, are not engaged in a fraternity initiation ritual, a sociology experiment or an attempt to meet girls.
Brown said the pair now are receiving the best compliment of all - other people occasionally join them in dispensing compliments to strangers.
"This gets me through my week, and I think if we stopped coming out they would miss us. The whole goal is to brighten people's days," Brown said. "We want people to pay more compliments. Hopefully, people at other college campuses will pick it up and decide that their college needs more compliments."
The Compliment Guys are starting to gain regional and national attention for their good deeds. Profiles on them have been published in the Indianapolis Star and Chicago Tribune. "The Oprah Show" also has expressed interest in scheduling the duo for an appearance.
Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-494-6262, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Brett Westcott, email@example.com
Cameron Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; email@example.com
Note to Journalists: Video of the "Compliment Guys" can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QShPNcjgtfs
A publication-quality photo is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2009/compliment-guys.jpg
A publication-quality photo is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2009/compliment-guys2.jpg
To the News Service home page