Each fall semester (or spring) our chapters recruit and welcome outstanding, quality women into our organization. They are excited to get involved and are eager to learn and embrace all there is to know about Alpha Phi.
So why do we demean and humiliate our newest members by calling them things other than what they are? They are sisters, first and foremost. How difficult is it to refer to them that way?
The photo above appeared in my newsfeed on my Facebook page. I always love seeing photos of our newest members or hearing about a chapter’s recruitment numbers...we all do. However, my heart dropped as I noticed the sign in the corner that reads “Ahoy Baby Phis.”
Since my time working at the office it seems each year I am having a conversation with a collegiate sister about the use of the term “babies” to describe their new members. This ugly practice seems to be common on many of our campuses.
In Alpha Phi we do not refer to our new members as babies, pledges, newbies, or any other term that is humiliating. New Members are referred to as new members or new sisters. Because we respect our newest members, we should not degrade them by giving them inappropriate nicknames. They are young adult women and should be treated as such.
I know this can be difficult to do especially if your campus culture promotes such terminology. But why can’t Alpha Phi be the group to help stop this problem? It may take some time, but role modeling the correct language is the first step. We are leaders not only on our campuses but also on an international Greek level, so why not behave like one?
I ask that you start educating your chapter members on this and encourage you to not tolerate the use of demeaning nicknames. Even though this may seem harmless, it is in fact hazing.
Stefania Rudd is the Manager of Resources and Training Initiatives at the Alpha Phi Executive Office. One of her focus areas is the new member program and chapter education. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org