According to a study conducted at an unnamed “large public university located in the midwestern United States” by researchers of Miami University, greek affiliation is correlated with lower grade-point average. In an interview with one of the researchers, William E. Even, about the study’s findings, he stated that “when students join a fraternity or sorority it tends to have a negative effect on their grades, specifically during spring semester when recruitment processes typically take place.” From this observation, Even suggest that a closer look in to the pledging processes in consideration of GPA effects and a countering of the widely held and advertised belief that joining greek organizations will universally help grades is called for.
After the release of this study, Dani Weatherword, Director of the National Panhellenic Conference Indianapolis, and Judson Harras, President & CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference Carmel, Indiana, responded to the study’s claims with a letter citing multiple studies that tell the story of the correlation of greek affiliation and student success as a whole.
Weatherword and Harras state that as a whole “research findings have consistently supported that membership has a dramatic, positive impact on retention and persistence graduation.” One study in particular that was listed cites that fraternity members are 20% more likely to graduate, as well as the fact that membership in a fraternity or sorority has a positive correlation with persistence to graduation, citing “90% of fraternity/sorority members compared to 70% of non-affiliated students were enrolled during their senior year.” Through this letter and cited studies, we see the rhetorical move of Weatherword and Harras taking one aspect of academic success, GPA, and sticking it in to a larger schema of aspects of academic success.
In my opinion, greek affiliation does not necessarily increase academic performance across the board, but it does provide those affiliated with skills that are crucial in post-graduate life. Whether it be a leadership role, recruitment skills, or volunteer work, greek affiliation equips students with abilities that are truly developed outside of the classroom and cannot be measured by “academic success.”
This study backs my opinion, finding that fraternity men have “higher levels of development” in critical thinking, self-awareness, communication, diversity, citizenship, leadership, and relationships. In summation, Greek Life is, at its core, an extracurricular activity, and while this involvement serves to potentially limit academic success, so do other forms of involvement on campus. Greek affiliation, instead, supplements what the typical university in higher education cannot necessarily provide– out of classroom experience and knowledge integral to post-graduation success.
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