WKU’s Interfraternity Council, which serves as the judicial body for the university’s fraternities, passed new academic bylaws earlier this month raising the required grade point average for chapters and for individuals going through the recruitment process.
Before the passage of the new bylaws, chapters with an average GPA below 2.5 were placed on academic probation, and chapters with an average GPA below 2.25 were placed on academic suspension. While on probation or suspension, a representative from the fraternity was required to meet with the IFC academic director to develop an academic improvement plan.
Current IFC President Ben Hopper served as vice president of judicial affairs last semester when changes to the bylaws were first proposed.
“We decided that [the bylaws] lacked a backbone,” Hopper said. “We realized that this wasn’t really helping chapters because there was no end-result. There were no consequences.”
Hopper said it took between six and eight months to get the bylaws approved. The fraternities needed a two-thirds majority to pass the changes.
The new bylaws place chapters with an average GPA below 2.6 on academic probation and chapters with an average GPA below 2.4 on academic suspension. Chapters are required to raise their average GPA from 2.4 within two semesters and from 2.6 within three semesters.
Chapters unable to meet these requirements will face sanctions, including loss of Homecoming pairings for the upcoming Homecoming, loss of the two fraternity housing alcohol exemptions per year and loss of Greek Week participation for the upcoming Greek Week.
In addition, the new bylaws offer incentives to high-performing fraternities. Chapters who receive a 3.0-semester GPA will receive a five percent reduction to their head fees in the following semester or a one-time $150 donation to their philanthropy from the IFC. Incentives for improving chapters are currently being discussed.
According to WKU Greek Affairs’ 2016-2017 Annual Report, the all-fraternity average GPA was 2.793 in fall 2016 and 2.88 during spring 2017. Both figures are slightly higher than the average GPA of all men on campus, which was 2.76 in fall 2016 and 2.85 in spring 2017.
In a previous Herald article, Charley Pride, direct of student activities, said he has recorded data associated with Greek students since 1994. He said there is an overall drop in GPA among students who join Greek life, but most students, Greek or not, are prone to lower GPAs in college.
Hopper said the bylaws are a great step forward for fraternities at WKU.
“The delegates voting to pass this shows that we have our minds in the right place,” Hopper said. “We recognize that academics are the main reason that we are here at college. We as a whole are looking to improve academically, to where each semester we are not just barely above the all-men’s average at WKU, but well above the all-men’s average at WKU. We want to increase that margain.”
Although the average GPA requirements have changed, Hopper said that chapters failing to meet academic expectations will still be required to create an academic improvement plan with the IFC academic director.
“As an IFC council, we want to be there to help these chapters who need help academically,” Hopper said. “Our plan is not to just leave them in the dark and say, ‘OK, get your GPA up or else.’ We want to help them form ways to allow their chapters’ members to succeed in the classroom.”
In addition to raising the GPA requirements for current fraternity members, the new bylaws also raise the bar for signing a bid. Previously, individuals seeking to join a fraternity were required to have a high school GPA of 2.5; individuals with college credit were required to have a 2.25 GPA. Now, a 2.5 GPA is required for all individuals participating in recruitment.
“[The new bylaws are] a good way of improving our fraternity system here at WKU by holding our chapters more accountable and hopefully improving their operations to where they start to place a higher regard on academics,” Hopper said. “[Then] our about 1,200 fraternity members can have the most beneficial experience to them. We recognize, through our experience, that a good fraternity experience has to have academics first.”
In addition to setting academic standards, the IFC also organizes recruitment activities, serves as a forum for fraternities to share effective improvement strategies and facilitates philanthropy events. The IFC will host the Walk-A-Mile-In-Her-Shoes event, which raises awareness for sexual assault on college campuses and raises money for Hope Harbor, a sexual trauma recovery center, on April 11.
The Walk-A-Mile-In-Her Shoes event received the Outstanding Service Project Award at the Southeastern Interfraternity Conference in Atlanta, with more than 40 schools in attendance. The WKU IFC was also recognized with the Fraternal Excellence Award for outstanding operations in multiple areas.
News reporter Olivia Eiler can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Olivia on Twitter at @oliviaeiler16.