Graphs, grades and Greeks

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November 6, 2014

10:11 PM

With approximately a third of the student body at the College of William and Mary involved in Greek life, we decided to take a look at some of the statistics surrounding this large and influential community on campus.

Greek life at the College has been steadily growing since 2005, although the ratio of Greek to non-Greek students has remained at about 30 percent. The entire student body is growing, and evidently, the Greek community is growing with it.

We can see from the treemaps below that fraternity and sorority chapters at the College have fluctuated noticeably since 2005. Some chapters have gone temporarily extinct while others have grown considerably in the past nine years. Moreover, the turnover for fraternities is much higher than it is for sororities. Only ten of the current 17 fraternities were around in 2005, whereas all but one of the sororities present on campus in 2005 are still operating.

The number of women in sororities has increased, and the amount of freshmen joining sororities has increased sharply, a trend perhaps fostered by the College’s zero-tolerance policy for hazing. However, our charts do not include the most recent recruitment. This year there were comparatively more sophomores and upperclassmen participating in recruitment than there were freshmen, possibly due to the cancellation of “Meet the Greeks” during freshman orientation.

The opposite trend is occurring with fraternities. While there has been an overall increase of men involved in Greek life, there has been a decline of freshmen joining fraternities.

Perhaps the most interesting finding, however, was made by comparing the average GPAs of Greek students to non-Greek students. First of all, the overall women’s GPA as well as the average sorority GPA is significantly higher than the average male GPA. Last semester the all women’s GPA was a full .16 points higher than the men’s GPA. Furthermore, in recent years there has been a trend towards members of the Greek community having higher GPAs than non-Greek students, though this certainly has not been the case in the past. This suggests a greater focus on scholarship within the Greek community.

When broken down by semester, there is a distinct fluctuation in GPAs across the board, with a trough during each fall and a peak during each spring. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the average sorority GPA graph. Sorority women spend their fall in a whirlwind. It begins with recruitment, then clue week, then homecoming commitments, and does not conclude until initiation in November. Unfortunately, these self-imposed and partly optional commitments sometimes take precedence over school work. The same likely goes for fraternities, and freshmen still adjusting to college academics. Despite these fall slumps, however, sororities and fraternities are maintaining above average GPAs.

The Greek community, it would seem, knows how to both work and play hard.

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  • Caroline Payne and Daniel Ruhnke

(2) Readers Comments

  1. Ethan
    November 9, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    A bit confused as to why this tries to ascribe the Fall/Spring differential to Greek activity when we see the exact same thing happen in the non-Greek community. This data says to me that being Greek seems to have no significant impact.

    • Daniel Ruhnke
      November 10, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      I agree with you, Ethan, that is is also a clear trend school-wide showing an oscillation in GPA between the Spring and Fall semesters. We here on the Crim Bell Curve team speculated that this may be a result of heavier commitments from clubs and other extracurricular activities as well as incoming Freshmen learning how to deal with a college-level workload. We decided to omit this from our article as we wanted to focus primarily on Greek life. Which, especially if you look at the most recent few years, does seem to have some effect on the degree to which the GPA fluctuates. Whereas Sorority GPA is actual higher than Overall Female GPA in the Spring of recent years, it is also lower than Overall Female GPA in the Fall. This suggests a larger swing between spring and fall for sororities than for just the typical female attending W&M, this was the connection with Greek activity we were trying to draw.

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