The semester grade point average of Northern Kentucky University sorority members has fallen below the combined average of all Greek and non-Greek female students. The Panhellenic Council, which governs NKU’s five National Panhellenic sororities, recorded a Fall 2008 GPA of 2.960.’ This marked a drop from its Fall 2007 GPA of 3.029, and is below the 3.03 average obtained by NKU’s female student population.’ The Inter-Fraternity Council, which governs NKU’s five IFC fraternities, and the National Panhellenic Council, which governs NKU’s six historically African American fraternities and sororities, both improved upon their Fall 2007 GPAs.
Assistant Director of Student Life Kimberly Vance, who serves as the primary Greek advisor at NKU, was ‘shocked’ upon discovering the decline in the overall academic performance of the Panhellenic chapters.’ With the exception of Delta Gamma, the GPAs of all of NKU’s NPC sororities dropped from 2007 to 2008, ending what Vance referred to as a continual progression of scholarly achievement since 2000.’ Scholarship has been a cornerstone of the Greek community, and is referenced in the mission statements of most chapters.’ ‘ Most chapters require a minimum GPA’ between 2.0 and 2.5.’ ‘ Vance explained that even the recent decline places campus sororities at a level of academic achievement that was not present two decades ago, but she did express some concern.’ ‘I did not expect to see a drop, in part because the academic standards of the university’s admissions process have been raised,’ Vance said.’ ‘Scholarship is a vital part of the Greek community.’ It is something that we say we’re going to do, so there needs to be a certain level of accountability there.’ ‘
Junior Phil Colston, president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., suspected that conflicts between Greek life, school and personal responsibilities were a major contributor. ‘I think this decline is due to the amount of programs and activities that the Greeks are involved in,’ Colston said.’ ‘There are community service projects, philanthropies, social events, parties, fundraisers and a lot of other things that happen.’ Also, most Greeks are involved in other organizations outside of their Greek organization.’ In a sense, becoming Greek is like going from high school to college, or getting a promotion.’ There are new responsibilities and there is an adjustment that must be made.’
Andrew Campbell, the president of NKU’s Inter-Fraternity council, encouraged Greek students to place academics as one of their highest priorities.’ While emphasizing the long-standing tradition of Greek academic excellence, he offered some advice to ensure that this notion is not forgotten.
‘It is important for each chapter to take a look at their expectations of members and perhaps take time to focus more on education,’ encouraged Campbell.’ ‘Oftentimes, Greek students are in many more leadership positions in non-Greek organizations, and this can stretch them too far. I believe that this is the primary issue at hand. While we encourage being active outside of the Greek community, it is important to continue to hold ourselves to a standard of academic excellence.’
Due to requirements held by the national governing bodies of each chapter, significant and continued academic deficiency could result in the suspension or removal of individuals or chapters.’ Currently, no NKU chapters are in danger of losing their national recognition. Although it is impossible to determine whether the recent decline was an isolated incident or the beginning of a trend, Vance declared, ‘I am definitely watching it.” She acknowledged the potential impact that it could have on future recruitment, as well as Greek presence at NKU.’
‘Without Greek life, NKU would be a very different campus,’ explained Vance.’ ‘I feel that we are a positive aspect of a very vibrant student life, and our members take that enthusiasm to their other student organizations’hellip;I am continually encouraging them to question their relevance to this campus, and that is especially important now.’