Greek community sees rise in overall grade point average

Many chapters have increased requirements to reflect the trend.

by Lolla Mohammed Nur

The greek community has long been stereotyped as being careless in academics, and almost 15 years ago, the below-2.75 average GPA of many fraternities and sororities was used to support the stereotype. However, the greek community has since experienced a rise in overall GPAs, and itâÄôs responding to the trend by increasing minimum GPA requirements. Earlier this month, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) decided to raise its minimum GPA requirement for fraternities from 2.75 to 2.85. Justin Snesrud, vice president of academics for the IFC, said the change was made because 83 percent of all fraternities are already above the new requirement. âÄúThe IFC made the changes to promote higher grades and challenge students to work harder in school,âÄù he said. The change will go into effect in the spring. The Panhellenic Council (PHC) doesnâÄôt have a minimum GPA requirement, but each sorority has its own, said Audra Ragan, PHC vice president of academics. Her chapter, Kappa Alpha Theta, increased its minimum requirement last semester, which she doesnâÄôt think will discourage current members or negatively impact recruitment. âÄúIt was collectively decided that it would make it easier for our chapter if we raise all of our chaptersâÄô standards, because it minimizes the reliance on one or two 4.0 people,âÄù she said. The trend in increasing overall GPA hasnâÄôt always been the case for the greek community. In the fall of 2008, the entire communityâÄôs average GPA dropped below 2.75, which Ragan said was followed by âÄúa strong push in academics.âÄù The community focused on all-greek study nights, roundtables and workshops with academic chairs. Ragan said this paid off last semester when no sorority âÄî and only one fraternity âÄî had an average GPA below 2.75. âÄúIt shows they work hard in the classroom and have done really well academically,âÄù said Chad Ellsworth, the coordinator at the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life. Encouragement from national headquarters and the UniversityâÄôs rising standards helped contribute to the overall increase, Ellsworth said. Ragan added that houses initiated a reward system to provide members with incentives to work harder. Snesrud said the enforcement policies for each house may vary, but in general, if a member doesnâÄôt meet the minimum GPA requirement, the punishment is social probation. Ragan added that some houses require a certain number of hours of studying per week and meetings with the chapterâÄôs academic chair to check on progress. âÄúDepending on how many semesters a person is on academic probation, those requirements can become more severe,âÄù she said. She also said that depending on the situation, an officer who is not in good standing would have to forfeit that position. âÄúBut in the five years IâÄôve been here, IâÄôve never seen that happen,âÄù she said. Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity president Zach Krause said his house has strict enforcement rules, which is why the fraternityâÄôs GPA has increased every semester for the past six semesters. The house had the highest GPA among fraternities last spring. âÄúLast semester, when we got a 3.43, we decided not to expel people for bad grades in their first semester,âÄù he said. âÄúWe made sure people follow up and have resources to work hard. Rather than expel members, weâÄôre trying to make sure members keep up their grades.âÄù