Maintaining a high grade point average should be the top priority for any student attending a university. For those who choose to partake in extracurricular activities, this becomes more of a challenge.
At the beginning of the semester, Pitt’s Interfraternity Council — the governing body of the 19 social fraternity chapters at Pitt — enacted a new policy that will incentivize first-semester freshman members of the social fraternities to maintain a GPA of at least 2.5. For each tenth of a point fraternity members’ GPAs fall below the requirement, their fraternity will be charged $20.
This policy is a great step to ensure that freshmen’s grades remain high during the pledging and initiation process, but it does nothing to ensure that students who are already members of fraternities will maintain their grades. The Interfraternity Council should check the GPAs of all fraternity members instead of focusing only on first-semester students. It should also consider changing the pledging process so that it occurs later in the semester in order to ensure that students can keep up their grades.
This policy is the brainchild of senior Zach Patton, the former president of Pitt’s Interfraternity Council. In addition to fining fraternity chapters for freshmen whose GPAs fall below 2.5, it also denies potential spring pledges the chance to rush a fraternity if their GPA is below 2.5.
Those involved in Greek Life on campus believe the policy will force fraternities to focus on academics, as well as their social calendar, and will create an incentive for members to study and maintain their grades. It is believed the policy will instill good habits in freshmen and establish a foundation for academic success later in their college careers.
But, as it stands, the policy does not go far enough to ensure that fraternities on Pitt’s campus stay true to their mission of promoting academic excellence among members.
One track the council and fraternities could take toward ensuring their members’ academic success is to delay fall rush. Waiting to admit new pledges into a fraternity until the middle or near the end of the semester ensures that students have started to build a base for their grades and know what it will take to keep their GPAs at an acceptable level.
Additionally, by maintaining a system in which grades of all fraternity members are monitored, Pitt has the ability to create a Greek community that has a vested interest in producing well-rounded college students.
The current policy is a move in the right direction to ensure that fraternity members keep their grades up. However, the GPA of an entire chapter relies on more than just those starting out at the University.