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Greeks stress academic exploits

Better known for partying and bar hopping, USF fraternity and sorority members say they take their studies seriously, too.

By VALERIE Q. CARINO

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 2001


TAMPA -- On a campus where many students are more familiar with the exits of Interstate 275 than the inside of freshman dorms, it's not often easy to get people involved in student activities.

But despite its commuter population, the University of South Florida has an active, academically driven Greek community that consistently performs better academically than its non-Greek counterparts.

Mike Farley, coordinator of Greek life at USF, said fraternity and sorority members earn, on average, about three-tenths higher grade-point-averages than those without Greek letters. He chalks it up to hard work, chapter pride and tracking each other's progress on a regular basis.

"A positive Greek experience always attracts the best students," said Farley, who oversees the 31 Greek chapters at USF.

Unlike many campuses across the country, USF fraternities and sororities don't have a common place to call home.

This absence of housing, however, may factor into the chapters' overall strength academically because members are forced to find other places to congregate, socialize and study.

That has certainly made all the difference to Lamda Chi Alpha member Matt Eibling, 22, who holds a 3.6 GPA and hopes to work as a consultant.

"I think a big part of it has to do with the fact that you have a lot of people supporting you," said Eibling, a communications major and fraternity member for 41/2 years.

"It motivates people to do something for themselves."

Part of the incentive, too, may be in the potential loss of social privileges if you fall behind with your studies. In Eibling's chapter, for example, fraternity members may be counted out of certain activities if their GPA slips below 2.25.

Just so that won't happen, Lambda Chi elects a scholarship chairman, who follows the academic trails of his brothers.

"If someone needs help, you're always there for them," Eibling said.

Alpha Delta Pi member Danielle Traub, 21, thinks Greeks are no more serious about their studies than their non-Greek counterparts. But there is a big motivating factor that goes along with being Greek: "If you fail, that reflects on the whole sorority."

That's why in between the partying and bar hopping there are regular study nights. That's why some sorority sisters and fraternity brothers take the same classes.

The emphasis on good grades falls in line with a sense of community service. Greek chapters recently kicked off their annual charity "Greek Week."

They were hoping to surpass the $14,000 collected last year.

Farley was optimistic about their chances.

"All of our organizations will have to work twice as hard," Farley said, "but I'm sure they can do it."

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