Greek life members balance organization responsibilities, classes

Members of the grey team support their fellow brothers and sisters during the Greek Week God and Goddess Competition held on the Lakeside Patio Stage Wednesday night. Nick Gangemi // Photo Editor

The college workload alone can be tough enough to handle, and becoming a member of a sorority or fraternity adds even more responsibilities, such as chapter meetings, philanthropy and recruitment.

Yet semester reports suggest that UM students are able to balance both academics and Greek life. According to the fall 2014 report, affiliated students earn higher grade point averages (GPA) than the overall university average.

The overall undergraduate GPA for the semester was 3.105 and Greek members have an average of 3.412.

“The all-Greek GPA average is usually three-tenths of a point higher, if not higher, than the all UM undergraduate average, so I think the math alone would tell you that they do better academically,” said Steve Priepke, assistant dean of students and director of Greek life.

This comes on the heels of negative conversations regarding Greek Life. The recent University of Oklahoma scandal as well as allegations of sexual assault at the University of Virginia prompt college campuses to reconsider the role Greek life plays.

Zeta Tau Alpha topped the sorority list with a chapter GPA of 3.627, edging out Alpha Delta Pi by just .026.

Charly Edmiston, Zeta scholastic chair, attributes this achievement to the hardworking nature of her sisters, but said Zeta also offers unique programs to encourage academic success. The chapter provides incentives like chances to win apparel and other small prizes for sisters who attend all their classes in a week or receive an “A” on a paper, exam or project.

The Chi Omega GPA was the lowest of the sororities for the fall 2014 semester, but the chapter has high hopes for improvement.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s not a problem that is insurmountable if addressed properly,” said Maya Sperkacz, vice president of UM’s Chi Omega chapter. “Right now, scholarship is one of our main concerns and our intent is to spend the next few semesters working to raise our chapter GPA to match or exceed the all-sorority average.”

According to Psychology Today, this trend of Greek letter organizations earning slightly higher GPAs has been found in national studies.

Yet, as with all statistics, other factors can influence the figures. During recruitment, Greek organizations often favor students with better grades.

“It’s the second question during every [recruitment] interview,” said Jared Silberlust, academic chair of Zeta Beta Tau. “The first question being, ‘What’s your name?’”

Many students like sophomore Rebecca Rosen argue that even though the selection process often favors those with better grades, being surrounded by intelligent individuals motivates them to work even harder and improve their own performance.

“Being part of an organization of sisters who care about their grades and want to help each other promotes and ensures success,” said Rosen, who is director of scholarship for Delta Gamma.

Travis Stoller, scholarship chair of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which held a 3.448 GPA in fall of 2014, shared similar sentiments.

“I am constantly surrounded by people who are striving to excel academically,” he said.

According to Stoller, new members may struggle to find time for both schoolwork and fraternity life, but they quickly achieve balance with the help of their brothers.

“Ultimately, I have found that the vast majority of people will still make the time to study, regardless of their fraternity involvement,” Stoller said.

GPAs for individual fraternities were not made available.