USC’s Panhellenic Council wants to widen the positive gap between the all-Panhellenic GPA and the all-female GPA in hopes of combatting stereotypes and making the Greek system more attractive to potential members.
For the spring 2010 semester, Panhellenic sorority members had an average GPA of 3.41, which is .07 points higher than the all-school female average of 3.34.
To further raise the Panhellenic GPA, Zara Abrams, vice president of scholarship, is planning a number of new initiatives for 2011.
“I want to create a website to help provide tutoring and study groups among Greek women,” Abrams said. “Also, I have been working with the Career Center to plan networking opportunities for the Greek community.”
Historically, the Panhellenic GPA tends to be above that of the university-wide, all-female GPA. In the fall of 2009 the Panhellenic GPA was 3.38 and the all-women’s was 3.35. This is a trend the new Panhellenic President Ayushi Gummadi hopes to continue.
“Scholarship is a number one priority,” Gummadi said. “Showing the USC community that sororities hold themselves to a high academic standard will not only fight stereotypes, but increase our attractiveness to incoming students because it shows we are a very well-balanced community.”
Beth Saul, director of Fraternity and Sorority Leadership, said one possible explanation for the higher Panhellenic GPA could be the academic support system in each house.
“There is a lot of attention given to scholarship as a new member, and also as a continuing member,” Saul said. “The sororities have some pretty high standards regarding requirements and they really monitor members if they are below certain GPAs.”
Furthermore, the resources available to those in Panhellenic houses are helpful in achieving academic goals, Gummadi said.
“I think having communities, the support of your chapter and having girls in your chapter to study with is helpful,” Gummadi said.
Individual incentives for sororities on The Row are also in place to stimulate high academic performances.
“We would like to raise the Panhellenic GPA even higher, so we decided to put out an academic challenge last year,” Saul said. “Any chapter that raised its GPA by .03 or higher received a special dinner for their scholarship chair. The incentive was so successful that we have decided to do it again with the fall to spring grades.”
Despite the high academic support in the Panhellenic community, there are still many stereotypes surrounding sororities.
“I had no idea that the sorority GPA was higher. If they are concerned with changing what they think might be a negative image, then they need to advertise their GPA more,” said Scott Macklin, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering.
The new Panhellenic cabinet aims to increase the academic resources and opportunities for all Panhellenic sororities on campus to bolster their GPAs.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to be a part of Panhellenic was because I have experienced the stereotype of sorority women first hand,” Abrams said. “People have to realize it’s a stereotype and they are not embracing an academic picture of Greek life. It is not so much about changing our image but showing them what Greek life really is.”