The USC Interfraternity Council has decided to implement a new office hours requirement, replacing the mandatory study session that many saw as ineffective.
Traditionally, IFC has held weekly, on-campus study sessions, which were mandatory for new members. The new-member grade point average, however, has been noticeably lower than the overall IFC GPA for a number of years and IFC decided it was time to find a solution.
Beginning this semester, IFC is requiring all new members to attend each of their professors’ office hours at least once a month and verify their visits with signatures.
Ben Gallant, the organization’s vice president for scholarship, said he saw the need for a change based on his own experiences and feedback from the fraternity presidents.
“Study hours was not a productive use of my time,” Gallant said. “When you’re sitting in a room with your friends, not much will get done.”
Gallant said the IFC opted for the office hours program because it gives new members an opportunity to review with their professors and ask questions.
IFC is hoping this new system will put the new-member GPA on par with the overall IFC GPA. Last semester the new-member GPA was 2.91, while the overall Greek male GPA was 3.29.
Parker Adams, vice president for public relations, said office hours should provide new members with a more valuable learning experience.
“Study hours didn’t create an environment that is focused on studying. We decided this system was more useful,” Adams said. “We’re also encouraging new members to go get firsthand knowledge from the people that actually give them that information.”
IFC President Eric Ronan said he has seen the rewards of establishing a student-professor relationship.
“From my experience, I’ve enjoyed getting to know my professors. I’ve gotten internship opportunities through visiting their office hours,” Ronan said. “We just like the idea of giving new members a little push toward connecting with professors.”
The office hours initiative will only apply to classes that are three or four units, Ronan said.
Though Adams recognizes that some students might abuse of the system, he said the new program is still better than study hours.
“Students faking signatures from professors — that’s the risk we are taking,” Adams said.
Nevertheless, Adams still believes it’s a better system than mandated study hours.
Gallant, aware of this potential problem, has come up with a solution.
“I will randomly select professors’ e-mails to check to see if students have visited them. The main target will be bigger-sized classes,” Gallant said.
In addition to raising the new-member GPA, IFC is hoping to accomplish long-term goals as a result of this initiative.
“If we can improve freshman grades, then the overall GPA will improve,” Adams said. “This will better reflect the Greek system. By requiring new members to enhance their learning outside the classroom, we will improve the student-professor relationship.”
Sergio Calix, an undecided freshman who was a new member last semester, said he sees pros and cons in both the old and new systems.
“The study hours were effective because it took two hours out of the day I needed for studying, and they also had tutors,” Calix said.
Still, he said the system was ineffective because most new members just spent the time socializing.
Calix said he thinks the office hours initiative could help improve new-member GPA.
Yet Calix said the IFC should go even one step further in reorganizing the system.
“Office hours in addition to tutors would be a great combination,” Calix said, “That would have helped me a lot during my pledge semester.”
Ronan added that this is the best system to date, but he is open to alternate solutions in the future.
“We are hoping this idea works, but, if we find after a semester or year from now that nothing is really changing, I’m okay with having a new idea,” he said.