At many universities across the country, it’s safe to say that Greek life doesn’t necessarily have the most sterling reputation. In fact, many associate this collegiate lifestyle with excessive drinking, partying and an overall lack of self-control. After all, movies like American Pie Presents: Beta House highlight only the classiest aspects of Greek life: scantily clad girls dancing on tables, disgusting pledging processes that resemble the tasks seen on Fear Factor and an overall atmosphere of constant debauchery.
While some of these stereotypes may exist in reality, does this misbehavior translate into weak academic performance? Interestingly enough, the average GPA in the University of Michigan Greek system for winter 2011 was 3.279, while the University average GPA was 3.244. This highlights the high expectations that Greek affiliates uphold in their time as undergraduates. After speaking with some important Greek figureheads, I got an inside look at the rules that Greek chapters have for their members.
“In order to maintain a high GPA for the sorority, we have a study room reserved each week in the library, mandatory study hours for freshmen, a textbook library in the house, and additional study tools that girls can upload online,” said Julia F., University of Michigan student and scholarship chair of Sigma Delta Tau. “In addition, we try to promote academic success through various incentives including a scholarship banquet each semester for girls who received above a 3.7 GPA and a raffle every other week in which small prizes are given to girls who have received an A on a graded assignment. All chapter members are also required to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5. This ensures that everyone understands what is expected of them and that there are consequences including probation if this minimum GPA is not met.”
Former Chi Omega president Rocki S., also of University of Michigan, echoes the sentiments of her Greek peer:
“If someone is close to the minimum or below, she will be on academic probation and is supposed to set up a plan with the vice president who is in charge of academics in Chi Omega to have a study plan and use resources like the test cabinet. If the GPA does not improve after one semester, her membership will have to go under review.”
According to Kappa Sigma brother at Franklin and Marshall College Jack V.: “To rush a fraternity at Franklin and Marshall, freshmen rushing in the spring must have a 2.25. For sophomores rushing in their fall semester, a 2.0 is the mandatory minimum GPA requirement.”
Although it seems from this sample of interviews that sorority chapters hold marginally higher grade point average standards than fraternities, academics are taken very seriously in the Greek system. So the next time you pull out that dusty old American Pie DVD from the depths of your movie cabinet (2007 was eons ago, after all), remember that the rowdy and riotous behaviors of Erik, Stifler, and Cooze are not completely representative of the college lifestyle. The motto of those in the Greek system is pretty identical wherever you go: “work hard, play hard!”