Putting a Face to Theta (or Not to Theta)

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.


What 5 girls from the female student body at Swarthmore answered when they were asked if they had joined the new chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta on campus.



  1. “Five girls from the female student body…”

    As a longtime writer and editor on campus, I tend to notice changes in usage and language, such as the various forms of “Swat.” The reappearance of “girls” after several decades of referring to “members of the female student body” as “women,” is curious. I noticed use of the same word in this week’s Phoenix, in another piece about Theta.

    I also noticed that this isn’t how members of the sorority refer to themselves in these videos. They consistently talk about “women” on campus and how Theta will provide a space for women to do lots of positive things for themselves and the college. May that be so!

    Of course, all women were once girls, just as I was once a boy. Where the transition to “woman” or “men” occurs is different depending on the culture and circumstances. Some of the women and men who are fighting in Afghanistan are 18 or 19 years old—and no one would call them “girls” of “boys.” Yet the DG and Phoenix use the juvenile term to describe some fellow students.

    I’m not criticizing this. Just noticing that over my 22 years at Swarthmore, the language of students has changed in interesting ways. Just more food for thought on a campus that abounds with such intellectual comestibles….

    Jeff Lott

    • Thanks for this–very well thought out and exactly what I have been thinking. Perhaps if the Thetas used this language to discuss themselves, it *might* sit better with me. I’ve noticed that “girls” does seem to be used more frequently than “women” as a general term, but that this especially true when referring to the Theta women. I think that in general, this might be something for the Editors to start paying more attention to. I know that you are not doing it deliberately to belittle me and other Swat women, but at this point in my life I have begun to feel belittled when referred to as a “girl” by anyone younger than my parents. (Which has no great philosophical significance!–just the arbitrary fact of my own experience.) Maybe in the future this might be something to consider?

    • Hi Thomas,

      There should be a vimeo video that appears embedded in the story. It’s working on my end, but you can also watch it directly on vimeo. Here’s the link:


      Max Nesterak ’13
      Co-Editor in Chief

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Phoenix

Discover more from The Phoenix

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading