Feb 242005
Authors: Cari Merrill

There are approsimately 1400 Greek members on a campus of approximately 24,000

*New fraternity and sorority members: average of 2.84 GPA. 7 percent above average university freshman

*All Greek members: average of 2.86 GPA. 3 percent higher

*Undergraduate fraternity members: 2.76 GPA. over 4 percent higher than male peers

*Undergraduate sorority members: 2.94 GPA. almost 2 percent higher than female peers.


There is one more reason for Greek students to be proud of the letters they sport on their apparel.

For the fall 2004 semester, members of CSU's Greek community posted grade point averages above that of their non-Greek counterparts.

In all categories including men, women, new members and undergraduate students part of the Greek community had GPAs anywhere from 2 to 7 percent above that of the average CSU student.

This rise in GPAs has been a work in progress.

Following 25 years of Greeks having below-average GPAs, a task force was developed in 2002, said Mark Koepsell, director of Greek Life. The task force made recommendations to raise GPAs.

"One of those was to set standards of excellence in the academic arena for all of the chapters," Koepsell said. "So we really did individual counseling with chapters to help them to develop good academic programs that include everything from incentive programs to award-like programs."

"Positive reinforcement really helps them," said Kristen Parks, president of Kappa Kappa Gamma. "At our meetings, we give girls awards for not skipping class."

Members of the Greek community are also encouraged through the use of award certificates, special dinners and gift certificates, Koepsell said.

On the flip side, there are consequences for members who let their GPAs slip below the house requirement.

"A lot of the times, too, if you fall below a given GPA, they'll say you're on social probation," Koepsell said.

Social probation ranges from not being able to attend exchanges with other fraternities and sororities to not being able to hold a chair position in the house.

"If you are on academic probation, below the 2.5, then you can't be any kind of chair, like social chair," said David Higgins, president of Beta Theta Pi.

When a drop in grades is noticed, immediate action is taken. Steps are taken to help the students get back on track.

"The scholarship chair is responsible for getting reports from those guys, monthly reports on how their classes are going," Higgins said. "The scholarship chair is the mentor that keeps them accountable."

As well as following CSU's policy for academic probation, fraternities and sororities hold their members to a higher standard. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA before going on academic probation, according to the Center for Advising and Student Achievement's Web site, www.casa.colostate.edu.

Students are allowed two consecutive semesters on academic probation before expulsion, according to the Web site.

Some Greek organizations have even higher requirements. Beta Theta Pi, for example, has a minimum GPA of 2.5. If a student falls below the minimum GPA established by their Greek organization, academic probation takes effect and plans are made to bring the GPA back to an acceptable level.

The women of Kappa Kappa Gamma are held accountable if their GPA falls below the mark, then a plan for improvement is made, Parks said.

"We have a minimum GPA that they have to withstand to be in good standing with our sorority. And then if they're not, at that point, they meet with our vice president of academic excellence and an advisor and they discuss, make a plan, to get their grades up," Parks said.

Programs encouraging academic success vary between houses. Members of Beta Theta Pi have study sessions whereas Kappa Kappa Gamma cannot require study hours as it is considered a form of hazing. Studying is strongly encouraged but cannot be required due to national chapter guidelines, said Parks.

"Like most fraternities, we have a study table program where you have to go to study tables and study together," Higgins said.

Structured study programs are not the only way to help students study. The right environment is key as well.

"We have time downstairs where it's quiet so if you need to get studying done, you know the other people will be studying as well," Parks said.

Beta Theta Pi has made considerable efforts to put academics first, and the work has paid off. Traditionally, sororities have posted higher GPAs than fraternities but Beta Theta Pi broke the mold by posting the highest GPA for the fall 2004 semester, above all other fraternities and sororities.

Beta Theta Pi's high GPA is also due to the fact the men care about each other, Higgins said.

"One thing that's important is that we all care about the other guys in the fraternity. We care about their future so if we're all hanging out or we have a meeting coming up and some guy says, 'Hey, I've got a test. I can't make it to this.' we don't get on his case about it and say, 'Hey, well, you should come, we're going to a movie or something.' We're like, 'Sure, we understand.' because we care about each other getting somewhere in life," Higgins said.

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