By Sidney Kleinpeter | LSU Student
Male and female Greek organizations are the largest and most visible groups on LSU's campus, comprising nearly 17 percent of the student body with more than 3,600 students active in 38 chapters.
In addition to the social and philanthropic aspects of Greek life, members of Greek organizations, on average, out-perform their peers in the classroom, but not by much, according to GPA data provided by LSU Office of Greek Life.
Last semester, fraternity and sorority members earned a 3.078 GPA, while the average undergraduate GPA was a 2.922. In the previous three semesters, Greeks notched 3.098, 3.054 and 3.116 GPAs, while the average undergraduate GPAs were 2.92, 2.903 and 2.879, respectively.
But not all fraternities and sororities outpaced their campus siblings. Only nine out of 20 Interfraternity Council (IFC) houses were above the average undergraduate male GPA of 2.81. Panhellinic Council (PHC) sororities fared better with 10 of 11 topping the average undergraduate female GPA of 3.027.
"(Greek students) are held accountable for their academics by their peers, and students who are not part of similar organizations may not experience the same level of accountability," Greek Life Associate Director Jonathan Sanders says.
Overall, LSU's PHC sororities performed best with higher average GPAs than the average of all LSU fraternities, undergraduate students and undergraduate women each of the past four semesters. Last semester, PHC sororities earned a 3.2 GPA, while LSU undergraduate women had a 3.027, undergraduate students earned a 2.922 and fraternities posted a 2.81 GPA.
Individually, Delta Delta Delta had the highest GPA for PHC sororities the past three semesters, and Kappa Delta sorority earned the highest GPA in the spring of 2009. On the other end of the spectrum, Sigma Alpha sorority had the lowest PHC sorority GPA for the last three semesters with, while Zeta Tau Alpha was on the lowest in the spring of 2009.
Caroline Davis, president of Delta Delta Delta, said the sorority performs well academically because it stresses the importance of academics as part of positive personal development and encourages members to engage in academic activities such as studying abroad and accepting internships related to careers.
"We try to make it cool to have good grades," she said. "(Greek life) is not just about having fun all the time. We're here because we are in school and we want to build ourselves as better people."
In contrast to their female counterparts, the overall IFC fraternity GPA was higher than the LSU undergraduate student averages only once the past four semesters. However, it was still higher than the undergraduate male averages all four semesters. Last semester the IFC fraternity GPA was a 2.82, while undergraduate students earned a 2.922 and the undergraduate male average was a 2.81.
Sigma Phi Epsilon led the way for IFC fraternities, earning the highest GPA the past four semesters. Delta Kappa Epsilon had the lowest GPA of IFC fraternities last semester and in the fall of 2009, while Pi Kappa Alpha was at the bottom in the spring of 2010 and in the spring of 2009.
"It's all about instilling the mindset early on that grades and academics are important," said Sigma Phi Epsilon president Andrew Leonpacher. "It's a great reflection of the fraternity as a whole with guys putting themselves in position to be successful after college."
Sanders said each Greek organization has its own academic standards members must achieve to remain in good standing with their chapters, and both Davis and Leopacher said the different admission standards each house uses to select its members is the main cause of the disparity in the GPAs of different chapters.
To reward good grades, Greek Life presents the sorority and fraternity chapter with the highest overall combined fall and spring GPA with the Chancellor's Cup Award, which is kept at the chapter house for the year. Other incentives include a fee reduction in dues collected for chapters that obtain a 3.0 GPA, and bonus points in the annual assessment process are given to chapters above the undergraduate men's and women's average, Sanders said.