Greek members at the University of Minnesota are raising their GPAs to avoid punishments and receive benefits from chapters.
Leaders of the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils are making academics a priority which they say is shown through GPA gains over the last five years.
Since fall 2011, the mean GPA for the IFC has increased from 3.06 to 3.18. Similar trends occurred in sororities where the mean GPA rose from 3.22 to 3.30 over the past five years.
Those increases also align with an overall increase campus-wide.
Part of therise, according to representatives from the councils, can be attributed to new programs the groups have put in place such as study nights and tutoring programs.
IFC President Mitch Kelley said the rise stems from a desire in Greek life to recruit academically-focused members.
Navya Prabhushankar, PHC vice president of academics, said many of the programs started through her position helped boost the focus on academics. She pointed to the Panhellenic Scholar of the Month program, which rewards sorority members for good grades, as an example.
She said members can report high test or assignment grades to be entered into a raffle for gift cards and preferred rooms in the chapter house.
“A large focus is always on academics because everyone is a student first,” she said. “They like to be recognized for doing well academically.”
Chapters provide benefits for doing well, but they also punish members who are not meeting their minimum GPA requirements.
Each chapter has a minimum GPA that its members must maintain. If they fall behind in classes, they aren’t allowed to attend social events and are provided with resources to help improve their GPA.
“Anyone in our community who is not pulling their weight will be held accountable,” said Blake Harris, the IFC’s vice president of member development.
GPAs for fraternity and sorority members have risen considerably since the 1940s, when education was less of a priority for the groups.
According to a Minnesota Daily article in 1942, the total average GPA of all academic fraternities was 1.006, equivalent to a “C” at that time. Of the 30 fraternities on campus at the time, half reported their average GPAs were below that number.
Sorority grades have also jumped from a 1.330 average GPA in 1942 to a current 3.30 average.
“The goal is always to want to have a good GPA for themselves because it benefits them,” Harris said.
Members from the IFC and PHC plan to continue the trend by expanding current academic programs and creating new ones.
Prabhushankar said she hopes to grow the Panhellenic tutor program, and Harris said the IFC is considering partnering with PAWS during finals weeks to host destressing events.