August 27, 2014  

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Greek Life Students at Southern Miss Show Academic Improvement

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University of Southern Mississippi senior Keenan Dollar serves as president of the Interfraternity Council. (University Communications photo by Van Arnold)

Greek Life students at The University of Southern Mississippi can still find plenty of reasons to LOL, but the GPA is taking maximum precedence these days.

Joshua Schutts, assistant dean of students at Southern Miss, notes that the average grade point average for all Greek students currently sits at 3.07 – the highest number school officials can recall since at least the 1990s. As the 2012 Fall Semester gets underway, the average GPA for a fraternity male is 2.82, while the same score for a sorority female is 3.19.

Schutts attributes several critical factors to the upswing in Greek Life grades – in particular -- momentum, morale and motivation.

“I think morale and motivation is contagious and spreads across the community when momentum is going in a positive direction,” said Schutts. “These students believe we can be excellent. They believe their organizations can get better, and they realize they play the integral role in those choices.”

Today, approximately 1,600 students comprise the Greek Life population which represents about 16 percent of the total enrollment at Southern Miss. Schutts points out that Greek Life has experienced an average growth of approximately six percent annually since 2008.

There are currently 25 inter/national fraternities on campus that are governed by three student boards. These organizations include the Interfraternity Council (IFC) – which features 10 fraternities; the College Panhellenic Council (CPC) – which features seven sororities and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) – which features eight historically African American fraternities.

Since its debut in 1978 the wildly popular movie “Animal House” has fueled the image of college fraternities and sororities as hotbeds for partying and anti-establishment behavior. However, Southern Miss IFC President Keenan Dollar said that changing attitudes among Greek Life students has altered that perception.

“Fraternity men and sorority women for the most part see the larger picture and know that if they do not make good grades the job they want in the future may not be available to them,” said Dollar, a senior public relations major from Wilmer, Ala.

The three Greek Life councils on campus use self-governance in the application of discipline regarding students’ grades and conduct. But the monitoring does not stop there.

“In 2010 we changed the academic policy the include accountability at the chapter level, as well as the individual level,” said Schutts. “Every student who fails to attain a 2.0 GPA meets with Greek Life staff to talk about their challenges and personalize an individual academic plan. On average, our office will meet with 200 students during the first month of school.”

Schutts notes that everyone associated with Greek Life at Southern Miss has pushed a recurring theme – known as the Big 3 – leading up to the new academic year.

  • The average Greek student makes a 3.0 term GPA
  • Gives 20 hours of service to the community
  • Raises at least $175 for local and national charities

“We are immensely pleased with the academic performance of our students in sororities and fraternities,” said Dr. Joe Paul, vice president for Student Affairs at Southern Miss. “In addition to supporting academic excellence, our Greek organizations give opportunities for leadership development, community service and help their members develop a life-long affinity for Southern Miss.”

For more information about Greek Life at Southern Miss, call 601.266.4823 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/greek-life