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Greek point average

While some struggle, Greeks pull overall above-average GPAs

Published: Sunday, January 7, 2007

Updated: Sunday, February 15, 2009 17:02

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Ben Henderson


It only took one semester for the sisters in the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha to make changes and become number one.

After barely making the list of top sororities at UCF based on grade point averages in the spring, President Devin Witherspoon said her sorority sisters were ready to put an end to their bad grades.

"It feels really great,"Witherspoon said. "It's a big turnaround for us. It's really great for us to know that we're at the top as far as everyone in every Greek Council for the university. We're thankful, and we've been working very hard to improve our GPA."

Witherspoon's sorority raised their overall GPA from a 2.992 during the Spring 2006 semester to a 3.203 in the fall - making them the highest-ranking sorority at UCF.

The fall semester GPA rankings were released over the winter holidays and the Greek GPA average has yet again surpassed that of the UCF student body average for the second consecutive year.

The director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Belinda Boston, said she isn't too surprised with the numbers.

"If you look at the history, generally students who are involved in Greek life have a higher GPA than students who are not," Boston said.

That has held true at UCF. Last semester, the overall Greek GPA was a 2.857, while the undergraduate UCF GPA was a 2.822.

Other people outside of the Greek circle may be surprised, Witherspoon said, but those in the sisterhood and brotherhood of Greek life know that striving for superiority got them to that point.

"We hold excellence and academics very, very high," she said. "So for us to not have been the top before, it just put more strife under us to be the best because we know that's what we are."

Although Garrett Hyer's fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, ranked number one with a GPA of 2.96, the former president said he still thinks there's work to be done with the image of Greek life.

"Overall, frats in general need to be cleaned up a lot and focus on the reason of why we're at UCF," 20-year-old Hyer said. "We're fighting to have premier Greek life at UCF, but it's hard when there's nothing premier about it."

Lately, UCF Greek Life has been suffering from a bad reputation due to hazing and drug accusations, causing some chapters to close their doors.

Hyer said he believes the higher GPA standings will help bring positive attention.

"It's easy for the press to focus on the negative things," he said. "It's my vision to do better and better and better because when something is so recognizable that's when it's talked about."

Greek Council, as a whole, may be outperforming average students at UCF, but fraternities, on the other hand, have been struggling to keep up.

Undergraduate UCF men averages have surpassed fraternity averages both in the Fall semester 2005 and 2006, but they were able to turn it around every consecutive spring.

Setting goals with his fraternity helped them get the highest ranking, Hyer said. It's always a top priority.

"I asked them [fraternity brothers], 'Where do you guys want to be at the end of this semester, the start of rush and the end of year?' One of the top things was that we wanted to be number one in grades," he said.

And they are. Beta Theta Pi has had the highest fraternity GPA for two consecutive semesters. Hyer said his fraternity's standards are what help the brothers continually do well.

"We try to live by our values, having a lot of character and values of learning with the utility for people to learn, grow, develop, and network," he said. "It's a cultivation of intellect. Studying is something we put on the forefront. That's why you're in an academic institution."

Not all fraternities and sororities have fared so well. Zeta Phi Beta ranked worst among sororities with a 1.902, the lowest GPA for fraternities as well. Lambda Sigma Upsilon ranked 22nd among fraternities with a 2.113 GPA.

Boston said that the lower performing chapters are not in jeopardy of being punished but are instead given extra help to pinpoint the problem with support programs like Student Academic Resources Center.

"We work with advisers and presidents. We let them know of services through SARC or other entities on campus to help improve areas they are struggling in," she said. "They are not special or different. We want all students at UCF to excel."

Each separate chapter has its own goals and plans, the newly appointed president of Beta Theta Pi, Jason Holic, said. For his fraternity, focusing on the bigger picture is their plan of attack.

"This is setting a precedent," he said. "As long as we excel as a Greek system, that's our central aim. It's great to be a member of the number one frat, but if it's above the UCF GPA it'll break the stereotype that's been attributed to Greek life."

Holic has achieved academic success with a 4.0 last semester. He gives credit to his fraternity for his good grades.

"A lot of people probably think we have secret test things that have all the answers, but that's not what it is," Holic said. "Being involved in the frat helps me manage my time. For other people it's just a way to network. Being Greek just forms an instant bond. You see Greek letters and there's already a bond there."

That bond and sisterhood of Alpha Kappa Alpha is what keeps them on track, Vice President Ashley George said.

"Because we spend so much time together there's a support system that you wouldn't normally have," George said. "It's rare to find a group that would support you and look out for you as a friend. I think there's this boost like 'I want you to do well, and if you need anything, let me know.'"

Whether it's proofreading homework, helping with math, or getting groceries for a sister who is busy studying, George said it's the little things that help with the success.

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