October 26, 2010

Terminology Tuesday- Nationals...eh?

Welcome back to Terminology Tuesday! Each Tuesday we will blog about some commonly misused terms within the Fraternity. It’s our hope that you take some time to read, laugh, smile, and then use the information to alter your word choices, and the choices of those around you.

Who was the first President of the United States? If you ask almost any Alpha Phi, she will be quick to tell you…George Washington! Now we get a bit tougher: Who was the first Prime Minister of Canada? I’d be willing to bet that many Alpha Phis wouldn’t know the answer to this one (by the way…the answer is Sir John A. MacDonald). Well, I guess we all could use a little lesson in history sometimes. And, for this week’s Terminology Tuesday, we thought we might brush up on our geography as well.

I’ve been involved with Alpha Phi for almost 20 years now, and whenever I visit chapters or meet sisters from across North America, I am surprised that some of our members have a selected understanding on one of two issues:

1) They don’t know that Alpha Phi even has chapters in Canada. In fact, there are six chapters currently active in the Great White North; and, founded in 1906, Xi is the oldest sorority chapter currently operating in Canada of any NPC group.


2) While Canadians do tend to look to our neighbors to the south quite a bit for trade, world politics and better TV shows, we are in fact a separate country with our own parliament (government). You even need a passport to come across the border now! I do hope that both of those facts are common knowledge, and that the use of a term “Nationals” I hear way too often is just due to a misconception rather than anything more. So…I pose the last question in my quiz to you: If you are sending in your dues, pin orders, etc…where are you sending them?

For many, the answer is obvious: “We send them to Nationals!” Hold on there! Can I program “Nationals” into a GPS? So, if it’s not a location, why do we phrase it as such? It’s time to set the record straight. Alpha Phi does not have a “Nationals;” we have an “Executive Office” at 1930 Sherman Ave in Evanston, IL. It is the office of both Alpha Phi International Fraternity and the Alpha Phi Foundation. That office is full of our staff: many women and men who work hard to provide support to your chapter in every way: recruitment, finances, programming, Philanthropy events, and too many others to count. Some groups may call it a “headquarters,” but in Alpha Phi, we say “Executive Office," because frankly…that’s what it is.

So, the next time you are about to say “We have an ELC from Nationals” to anyone, please stop and think. The person who is visiting you might not even be American, but Canadian, which would make her International! But better yet, please say that “An Alpha Phi is visiting” or “She/He works at the Executive Office.” You won’t be hurting my Canadian feelings by doing that. Be proud of our status as an International Fraternity—not every NPC group can claim that. Canadians have served as Regional Team Members, Committee Chairs, ELC’s, IEB members, and even Past International Presidents (the title should have been a clue). I finish by offering you an invitation: Should you want visit, I’m sure any of our Canadian sisters would love to have you…they might even take you out for some poutine and a hockey game!

Alison Nash (Xi/Toronto) is one of the Canadian Resource Coordinators and serves on the Upper Midwest Regional Team.

October 19, 2010

Circle Circle, Dot Dot... Now I've Got My Mom and Dot!

Welcome to Terminology Tuesday! Each Tuesday we will blog about some commonly misused terms within the Fraternity. It’s our hope that you take some time to read, laugh, smile, and then use the information to alter your word choices, and the choices of those around you.

Many of our chapters are in the midst of one the most exciting times of the new member program, Big and Little Sister matching. While some of our members are planning special surprises for the newest members of their family lines, others of us are anxiously awaiting the pictures and stories that get passed on. Amidst all the excitement there comes the inevitable sigh when we see the references of ‘Mom and Dot/Daughter’ or ‘Mom and Kiddo’ on photos and wall posts. As an organization, Alpha Phi refers to this relationship as Big and Little Sisters.

But so what? Honestly we aren’t hurting anyone – we are just sticking with the “traditions” of our chapter – right!?! While this may seem like just another thing small nuisance we talk about, it’s an important topic to discuss with your chapter, and even your campus.

By referring to our new members as daughters instead of sisters, we are sending the message that she is not equal to the rest of the chapter. There is still someone who is above her, who can tell her what to do. After graduating high school and starting college one of things students say they are most excited about is no longer having a parent telling them what to do all the time. So why do we allow this in our chapters? The purpose of the Big Sister program is to be a peer and mentor to our newest members.

This terminology is by no means strictly an Alpha Phi issue - in fact it is deeply embedded in the “traditions” of many university campuses. Our chapters can’t control the actions of all Greek organizations and often don’t want to be the only different chapter on campus, so the incorrect terminology continues on with time.

But since when has Alpha Phi been afraid of taking a stand on important issues and initiating change? We educate our new members on all the amazing firsts and accomplishments of our Fraternity, so let’s demonstrate to them that we are still leaders today. Let’s be the organization that takes the issue to your Panhellenic Council and lead by example!

Heather Scheuer is the Program Manager of Collegiate Chapter Services at the Alpha Phi Executive Office. She can be reached at hscheuer@alphaphi.org.

October 5, 2010

Terminology Tuesday – Statuses of Membership

Welcome to Terminology Tuesday on the Alpha Phi Blog!

Each Tuesday we will blog about some commonly misused terms within the Fraternity. It’s our hope that you take some time to read, laugh, smile, and then use the information to alter your word choices. We also hope you challenge yourself and those around you to make changes in our everyday speech to come more in line with the correct terminology. We kicked off last week with "I ain't no baby".

Today we focus on some common misnomers related to membership statuses within Alpha Phi. Here is a brief summary of our options for membership:

New Member: These women have just joined a collegiate chapter and have yet to be initiated. As you read last week, using the term "babies" or any similar terms such as "Phi Babies", "Baby Ivy", etc. is inappropriate. If you are a current collegiate member, you were in middle school when all 26 NPC organizations stopped using the term pledge. (Please note that "pledge" is still used appropriately as verb, as in "The chapter pledged 34 new members.").

Collegiate Member: These women have been initiated, are current dues paying members and are enrolled full time on campus as defined by your chapter’s by-laws.

  • Associate Status is granted only by the Chapter Advisor and is used sparingly for extreme situations where a collegiate member is unable to participate (i.e. an internship in a neighboring city, student teaching, etc.)
Any member who is no longer enrolled at your school (transfers, drops out, takes a break) does not need to resign her membership or be terminated. The chapter president must however complete the Membership Status Change Form,found on the Officer Portal.

Alumna: A woman who has graduated, completed four years in the chapter or was properly initiated through the alumnae initiation process. Who was the first Alpha Phi alumna initiate and when? (hint: her birthday was not long ago) Look for a future Terminology Tuesday post on this term.


  • Terminated: Any initiated member who is no longer associated with the Fraternity. Chapters request the termination of a member; the International Executive Board is the only entity that can terminate a woman’s membership in Alpha Phi.
  • Resigned: Any initiated member who voluntarily discontinued her membership with the Fraternity.

Some statuses we don’t have include: pledge, inactive (there is no inactive status), and early alumna.

Let’s also take a look at some other terms that are commonly heard but are incorrect:

Activate/Sister Up
Resigned or Terminated
Sister or New Member
Doesn’t exist

You may be called many different things throughout your lifetime of membership in Alpha Phi, from New Member to Collegian to Alumna, it’s important to be mindful of the correct terms. Make a little effort to help correct word usage and role model this behavior. It won’t take long to develop a common vernacular.

J.D. Louk is the Director of Collegiate Operations at the Alpha Phi Executive Office. Collegiate Membership Status changes are under his department. He can be reached at jdlouk@alphaphi.org.

On the Road

Megan Keim (Epsilon Gamma-Sacramento State)
09-10 ELC

As consultants we move from place to place--Atlanta to Kentucky to Canada to California--and live in all sorts of places--houses, apartments, or dorms. With so much of our lives in a fast-paced game of change, it's the little routines we maintain that allow us to feel at home wherever we are.
For me, the two things that make any place I go feel like home are my phone calls home and my morning cup of coffee.
After flying all day, or attending ten meetings in a row, I may not have much to talk about. If I can't get to a Starbucks, the coffee might not be so great. But on any given day, these two small gestures can mean a lot. They provide warmth in the snow, sleet, and rain (which mean a lot for a girl from California), and comfort when airports, recruitments, and meetings become long and tiresome.
So no matter where you are or what you're doing, sometimes it's the smallest acts of normalcy that matter the most.

October 1, 2010

Quarterly Review

We're getting ready to send out the Fall Quarterly.
In the meantime, enjoy this great cover from 1975.