Greek life has it's own jargon, from sororities to fraternities, chapter to chapter and council to council the language to describe things are different but to un-Greek ears, most of them have no idea what we're talking about!! How are we supposed to prove to the world how awesome we are if they can't understand what we're saying...(am I right? am I right?)!
Language is a very very powerful thing - using one select term over another can inspire us, make us feel happy and or excited, make us feel loved or appreciated - words can also be hurtful. They can demean us, they can make us feel bad about ourselves or others... (think sticks and stones...). Greek jargon is just as powerful. In a community where outside perceptions are not always the best it's especially important that we be mindful of our language....and I'm not talkin' minding our p's and q's (although both are very important!!).
Here are some language DO's and DON'T's:
1. Do: New Member or Potential New Member - these two phrases give PNM's or New Members (Alpha Sisters wooo woot!) the respect that they deserve. They ensure a sense of safety in just our language - there will be no proving yourself or demeaning treatment, you are a new friend or sister or sisterfrand.... whatever you want to call it.
Don't: Pledge - Calling a person a "pledge" infers that they are "pledging," this above all else is one of the most negative notions of fraternity and sorority life. If you want non-Greeks (and many Greeks, I might add) to believe that you are not treating new members with the upmost respect this word is a big cue. Even if you are treating your new members in the best possible way - pledge carries with it a very strong and very negative connotation so why not avoid it?!
side note: Same goes for New Member Period, Alpha Period, etc... are Pledge Period, Rush....
2. Do: NPC Groups participate in Formal Recruitment
Don't: Sisters are not found in RUSH - small different but it gives a blanketed idea to what is actually a very precise and mutual process. While this phrase is still used by many universities to describe the time, it just shows that the campus Panhellenic group needs some reorganizing.
3. Do: Familiarize yourself with Greek terminology including council names,
National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)
National Panhellenic Conference (NPC)
National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association (NAPA)
National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations(NALFO)
National Multicultural Greek Council (NMGC).
North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC)
Don't: Call NPHC groups "the black ones" or refer to NAPA orgs as "the asian ones," having an understanding of the history and development of these councils and their purpose will not only change your own Greek experience for the better - no matter what group you are a member of, but will also give you a new understanding of these groups and their roles in every community....plus it makes you seem plain old stupid.
4. Do: Get to know and properly reference the Green Book/NIC Resolutions and your chapter's and any governing council's officers.
Don't: Count on others to learn these important things for you, if "traditions" inhibit your chapter from moving forward or the way you've always done things isn't working anymore...you might be doing it wrong and chapter officers may not know!
5. Do: Call the sisters of your chapter "Sisters" when trying to get their attention
Don't: Yell out "Girls" when trying to quiet the room - this is a personal one, but to me it just as such an "us" and "them" connotation to it when you're yelling at people. As a speaking officer or sister you're simply that, a speaking officer or sister...(but this could totally be just me!)
Language has a huge impact on the way people react to different situations. When we use the proper language, we'll get well...a proper response. Giving respect to other through language is more often than not given respect in return! Not to mention, calling things by their proper names makes us sound much more professional! (You fancy, HuH?!)
<3 Love and Loyally,