Let’s Stop the Baby Talk

Category: Fraternity

Maggie McKenny Harris

Gamma, Butler

A trend found in many college chapters across Panhellenic organizations (including Kappa Alpha Theta) is once again on the rise: the seemingly innocent, but unfortunate, trend of initiated members referring to new members as "babies." Yes, babies are new, amazing, and loved—and I am certain that is the intention with which the term is used—but in reference to our new members it’s not appropriate.

Sometimes innocent intentions, traditions, and words turn into something they were never intended to be, and this must be addressed. It is our responsibility to assess intent versus impact. Greek life is meant to elevate women and encourage and highlight women’s leadership. Greek women should be part of an effort to honor women—not babies. We can contribute to this by ending the “Baby Talk.”

Our collective sisterhood as Greek women is one that is often challenged and criticized (for example: the choices our members at Harvard were forced to make due to university administration policies). Infantilizing one another does nothing to support our position as strong, independent, smart, and driven women who wish to assemble for the good of our community.

Kappa Alpha Theta is about meeting the higher and broader demands of mature life and calling our members "babies" contradicts that. Our new members come into our sisterhood with a history of intellectual and personal excellence that inspired us to invite them into membership to begin with. Not a lot is expected of a baby because they are not capable of doing much for themselves. Defining a group of young women (who have made a very adult commitment by becoming new members) with a word that is synonymous with being childish, infantile, or less mature is an outdated and inappropriate classification.

We have a responsibility to our Theta sisters. When you consider the special women in your life with whom you have formed incredible bonds of sisterhood, I’m sure you would agree they deserve respect for their success and character. Let’s all help chapter members stop referring to a group of bright, promising women as "babies." This means not just in our speech and chapter terminology, but in event themes (chapter "Baby Shower" events), in new member gifts (baby bottles, bibs, and rattles) and on all forms of social media (“Welcome home, babies”).

Please continue to joyfully, enthusiastically, and lovingly welcome our new members and make them feel proud of their membership … as women, not as babies.