9 Reasons Why New Members Aren’t Babies

NHPW_FakeTweetNote: Zoe Zeta is a fictional character, but this image represents tweets we often see.

The babies epidemic.

For the last few years, we’ve seen our many sorority women who once referred to their sisters as new members take a more parental approach, calling these 18- to 20-year-old women “babies.”

Wow. We actually want these members to be intelligent, talented, strong, mature and successful members—women. We want them to make good choices and smart decisions as sisters. We want them to be our future leaders. And yet, some of us are calling them “babies.” It doesn’t add up.

Why? Because they’re not babies. Here are 9 reasons why.

1. They can feed themselves.
01_Feed themselves_Emma Stone

2. They hold their heads up and sit without your support.
02_Sit Up_Baby

3. They don’t need to be fed every few hours. Ok, maybe some do. After all, we’re college students. But at least a bottle is out of the picture.
03_Hungry_Zac Efron

4. They can sit in the front seat.
04_Sit in Front Seat_Baby

5. They can walk and move around without scooting or crawling.

6. They can respond to their name and smile when you talk to them.
06_Respond to Name_Despicable Me

7. They can communicate, so when something is wrong or they have concerns, they ideally should be able to tell you with actual words. You shouldn’t have to decipher their cooing sounds.

8. They can sleep through the night. Ok, so again, college students sometime struggle with this one, but at least they don’t need to be fed, rocked or sung lullabies to put them back to sleep.

9. And the real kicker—they don’t need their diapers changed. Thank goodness.

Lift new members up by treating them like the amazing women they are! 

National Hazing Prevention Week 2013 was Sept. 23-27. To educate our members and others about hazing prevention, Zeta Tau Alpha developed lists (inspired by BuzzFeed) to highlight positive member experiences and combat hazing. While these lists might be funny, hazing is not a joke. Join ZTA to end hazing by doing the right thing, for the right reason, all the time.


8 thoughts on “9 Reasons Why New Members Aren’t Babies

  1. Trust me when I say I am VERY against hazing. As a member of my university’s Panhellenic Executive Board, I am very supportive of the fight against hazing, and am currently involved in spreading awareness for National Hazing Prevention Week! However, having said that, I absolutely LOVED being a ZTA “Baby.” People of an older generation might view this as a demeaning term, but us girls in the chapter think it actually portrays an anti-hazing connotation. We treat our Zeta babies as princesses – we are always there for them, and we truly act as their older sisters as they acclimate to life in college. I wish people were not so quick to judge the term, because given the chance, I would relive my year as a zeta baby in a heartbeat!

    • Thank you for that feedback and perspective. Here’s where we are coming from.

      Yes, the term “baby” could merely signify that you are the newest addition to a chapter, but we advocate that sister and new members are even better terms. Babies are helpless. They cannot speak or act for themselves, and that’s not an idea we want associated with our new members. From day one, we hope to convey that ZTA is for smart, intelligent women, interested in friendship, service and leadership. We see new members as young women who have a voice and we encourage them to use it to contribute in positive ways! Besides, in real life, siblings are always more fun when they are at an age they can interact, play and talk with you at the same level.

    • I completely agree with Kelly L. Everyone who is soooo against the term “babies” is reading too deep into the meaning behind it. Because the fact is, it’s just a word! It’s something that refers to our wonderful, beautiful, intelligent sisters as new to the chapter they joined just like a baby is new to a family after birth. I loved being called a baby and so did my little and her little will too. It’s a term of indearment not something demeaning like most of you are trying to point out. Get over it already, complaining about it is not going to change anything. The term “baby” for new members isnt going anywhere.

  2. The colloquial use of the word “babies” when referring to new members in a sorority is something that really upsets me.

    As one of four children raised by a single mother in the midst of the feminist movement of the 1970’s, I saw how hard my mother struggled to be accepted as the intelligent, competent, college-educated woman she was (and is today). Her efforts to be seen for who she was and what she could contribute formed a large part of my self-identity as well. She is one of the best role models I have had.

    One of the virtues I appreciate most about your organization is that it is committed to developing women as strong, self-assured, capable young adults. That is something I will always support and respect.

    With one word – ‘babies’ – you tear that down.

    Now the counter-argument goes that the term is one of endearment and that it is representative of the fact that you would never hurt a new member, and that you would do anything to protect them. My mother heard something of the same argument from male construction workers and male office workers in the 1970’s who would call women “Baby”. It was a term of endearment! An indication that a man had a duty to protect a woman (being much too frail to protect herself).

    Calling someone “baby” still implies that she is unable to care for herself. She needs support and assistance because without it she won’t make it on her own. You can attempt to justify it as much as you want (many men did and some still do), but it is still a dis-empowering, pejorative term no matter what your intention is.

    New members don’t need your protection. You invited them to join your organization because they demonstrated values consistent with those of your organization. A part of that should be their apparent inner strength. Your role should be to show them how to grow that strength, how you’ll support their efforts to change culture and class, how you will help them grow as a leader. This will be tough if your “big” didn’t do that for you. But the right path is rarely the easiest and being the first means making more mistakes. But if you really believe in the mission of your organization, and the challenge you voluntarily signed on for with your pledge, you’ll step up and start treating new members as the women they already are rather than “babies”.

  3. Pingback: Our Zeta Babies, Not So Much (Warning: Extreme Cuteness) | ZTAFeed

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