In a move that signaled an unwillingness to accept soft treatment of the Greek system in academics, the Board of Trustees’ university affairs committee drafted a resolution Wednesday to require fraternities and sororities to achieve at least the campus average GPA — or lose the ability to recruit new members in the fall, beginning in 2012.
The campus average last semester was 3.01, though the minimum will change with each semester. Last fall, fraternities averaged a 3.019 GPA, while sororities achieved a 3.26 average.
Alston Gardner, chairman of the committee and board member, said he is confident the resolution will pass today at the full board meeting. Gardner said the current 2.5 GPA standard is based on the campus average from decades ago and has not adapted to grade inflation.
The resolution sharpened the plan presented by Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs, which recommended 2.9 as a new standard for houses to keep fall recruitment. Crisp said the increase was “reasonable.”
“When you give them something to reach for, they’ll reach it,” he said.
Barbara Hyde, a member of the committee, said the decision was made with consensus.
“(There is) real clarity around the need to set some higher standards for performance and behavior that we are confident the fraternities and sororities want to come up to,” she said.
Crisp said he hopes the expansion of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and its focus on academic resources for the Greek community will aid the transition.
Brent Macon, president of the Interfraternity Council, said the fraternity average GPA fluctuates between 3.0 and 3.1, and has been improving.
“The trend has been toward us progressing against the all-University average,” he said.
Lindsey Stephens, president of the Panhellenic Council, said she is not worried about the change.
“All of the sororities here are falling above the University average,” she said.
Stephens stood up in front of the committee and introduced the idea of adding a quota for sophomore membership in sororities in order to reduce the pressure freshman feel to join during their first semester.
Gardner said the committee endorsed that approach.
John Hughes, chairman of the board of the Fraternity Alumni Association, said he disagrees with the board’s and Crisp’s right to change the GPA requirements without going through self-governed Greek organizations.
“The standards of excellence agreement is a bilateral agreement between alumni and undergraduates and the University administration on how we’re going to govern ourselves,” Hughes said.
He said the committee’s resolution was a result of Roger Perry’s fixation on the Greek system.
Perry is a member of the committee and former chairman of the board who has pushed for removing fall rush for freshmen. He voiced frustration Wednesday with the Greek system and the board’s lack of progress in reforming it.
“There’s a great reason why so many of our fraternity system members go on to Wall Street, and that’s because they’re so good at gaming the system,” Perry said.
Crisp said the board does have the right to make this change.
“In order to participate in University activities and use the University name and receive services from the University, we do believe the board has the ability to set up conditions under which that can happen,” he said.
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