WRITERS: MELVIN O. SHAW, MARTI TIEDEMAN
CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Aug. 16, 1999
Rush participation shows that Greek life is still attractive
to some students
IOWA CITY, Iowa--Student
grades are up and so is participation in Greek life at the University of Iowa.
That combination is slowly softening the perception that Greek members are
more interested in late-night parties than academics, says Jason Lettman,
president, Interfraternity Council.
Beginning Monday, Aug. 16, some 560 young women and
210 young men will participate in Rush, the seven-day formal event whereby
prospective members new UI freshmen are introduced to current
members of the UIs recognized 18 sororities and 21 fraternities. Rush
Week activities allow prospective members, through a series of visits to chapter
houses, to query current ones about what their Greek organization has to offer
in the way of scholarship, leadership, service and athletics opportunities.
The goal is to help the prospective member find an organization that best
jells with his or her interests.
Jason Lettman, president of the Interfraternity Council,
the student organization which governs fraternities, says Greek society members
reflect the makeup of the UI student body: the typical Greek student wants
to achieve academically, is socially skilled and often assumes leadership
roles in student groups and activities.
Overall participation in Greek life at the end of
the 1998-99 academic year was 2,250. The number of males participating this
year is up from 198 last year; 597 women participated in Rush events in 1998.
Lettman believes mens improving grade point
average is an indicator that should help debunk negative perceptions about
student participation in Greek life.
In spring 1999, the mens overall grade point
average rose to 2.75; in fall 1998, the overall g.p.a. was 2.6. Lettman says
Phi Kappa Psi fraternity improved to an overall 3.02 g.p.a., its highest overall
average in 35 years.
"These jumps may seem small, but they show a
large community making progress. In addition, students who participate in
Greek life remain enrolled at the UI, and more than 47 percent of Greek freshmen
go on to graduate," Lettman says.
Adrienne Clark, president, Panhellenic Council, the
female counterpart to IFC, says the Greek organizations have quietly been
working on Greeks Advocating Mature Management of Alcohol, an initiative started
last year that teaches alcohol education and helps organizations develop alternative
social programs to alcohol consumption.
The event takes place roughly one month after Rush,
and works in tandem with other programs like Freshlook: Greek 101, which outlines
for new members, general expectations of the Greek community, information
about academics at the UI, and how to be responsible for ones own actions.
"We want to have a support system so that when
new students come here, they dont think the UI is a free-for-all,"
but a place to learn, be socially responsible and active, Clark says. Clark
says the publics perceptions do matter, especially when its negative.
"We can change that negative perception, especially
when we are unfairly chided, by offering programs and amenities like substance-free
housing," a no-alcohol policy restriction, which the UI and Greek leaders
agreed this week to temporarily relax for members who are at least 21. The
policy would have prohibited alcohol possession in chapter houses by Greek
members, regardless of age. Clark says the policy was designed to make the
chapters more reputable and to make them a good example for other universities.
Mary Ellen Gillespie, assistant director, Office of
Student Life, says the UI Greek community is among the smaller of those in
the Big Ten but is considered strong in term of leadership, change, and "modeling
the way," and that the UI has high expectations of its recognized chapters.