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Fraternities Adopt “No Grades, No Parties” Rule To Help Image

May 1, 1989

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) _ Scott Leffel straddled a motor scooter behind the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house and reflected on a future prerequisite for fraternity parties at Washington State University: good grades.

″I’m not too happy with it, actually,″ said Leffel, a sophomore. ″It seems like the university is continually working against us rather than with us.″

But the ″no grades, no parties″ rule that will take effect next year wasn’t the brainstorm of a scheming college dean trying to rid the campus of an ″Animal House.″

The Greeks, often considered synonymous with parties, imposed this rule on themselves to bolster their image and academic standing.

Beginning next spring semester, a fraternity will have to forgo parties for two weeks for every 0.05 point that its grade-point average for the preceding fall semester falls below the average GPA for all male undergraduates.

The rule, believed to be the first of its kind for an entire campus fraternity system, was adopted by the Intrafraternity Council on a 22-1 vote of chapter presidents. The 16,000-student school has 25 fraternities with a total of 1,400 members.

Council vice president Tom Gallagher said his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, would have been pinched if partying penalties had been imposed based on last fall’s grades. But that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the rule he helped develop.

Gallagher and council president Gary Downing said the policy attracted much interest at a Western regional conference of fraternities they attended recently in Oakland, Calif.

″The IFC leadership wanted to send a message that kind of flew in the face of the stereotypical perception of Greeks, that all they’re here for is to party,″ said Jack Burns, fraternities coordinator for the Residence Life and Housing office. He said he wasn’t aware of a similar campus-wide rule anywhere else.

Some fraternity brothers question the correlation between grade point average and keggers, though.

″Maybe the problem isn’t just with the partying; maybe it’s with the teachers and stuff, you know?″ said Leffel of Sig Ep. ″I mean, a lot of my TA’s (teaching assistants) are from foreign countries, and when I go in there to try and talk econ’ I can’t even understand this guy.″

″You can party as much as you want and still make good grades,″ said a member of Alpha Gamma Rho who was among a group soaking up sunshine on the fraternity’s lawn recently. ″It’s just a matter of budgeting your time.″

Some fraternity members claim the university pressured the fraternity council to adopt the rule, with some suggesting that President Sam Smith is bent on making the campus dry.

Smith dismisses those suggestions, although he praised the council for its move.

″If we tried to put in a rule like this, it would be fought,″ Smith said.

Under the new system, even a fraternity whose members get straight F’s won’t have to abandon all merriment. The rules set a maximum penalty of 10 party-free weeks. Penalized houses will get to pick which weeks they’ll spend on the social sidelines.

Gary Downing of Delta Upsilon said that if the rule was in effect this semester based on last fall’s grades, 14 houses would have been penalized, with three drawing the maximum of 10 weeks. Delta Upsilon would have been forced to drop parties for two weeks, he said.

Enforcing those sanctions could be problematic, though, says Dan Thumlert, a sophomore at Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Houses could avoid any party ban just as many have gone around another recent rule prohibiting buying kegs of beer with a house check, he said.

″You just do it through a private account,″ said Thumlert. ″And we’ve had more kegs this year than we had last year.″

-01-89 0243EDT

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