Topic: Increasing Student Retention-The Problem of Greek Life

“Student Involved in Greek Life Show Low GPA, Higher Retention” by Spencer Harsh. College Heights Herald. 


In search of this week’s lightning round article, I elected to scout for something that would help to slightly unhinge the assumptions I have formed in regard to my thesis (big idea). As I am essentially attempting to expand outward from Student Involvement Theory by way of a big idea that proposes cogenerative programs as the best means of retaining students, a process that in turn generates a student base typed as an “educational citizenry”, I needed something that suggested that Student Involvement was in some way(s) flawed.

The article I selected does a decent job of this, directly speaking to a combination of national (across the board) and local (Western Kentucky University) research which makes the reasonably intuitive, though theoretically troubling, claim that participation in Greek Life both increases one’s retention and decreases one’s GPA. This may be due in part to the seemingly insidious support networks that provided the backbone of many a Greek Life Institution, in which students may be informed of particularly easy or low-intensive courses and majors that can speed them in the direction of a certain graduation date. Clearly, this is student involvement gone wrong. 

After this statement of “fact”, the article swings in a partisan direction, in favor of fraternities and Greek Life-of which I find generally unconvincing.

No matter the “facts” of the situation, it is clear that such a seeming paradox-increasing retention and overall rates of college success while lowering actual incremental success (i.e. grades, performance, acquisition of skill, and rigor-everything one goes to college for) seems to be nearly criminal; an easy way for a college to hollow out the core of their educational space and pad the numbers with a mind toward artificial outcomes alone.

As initially I thought to suggest peer-to-peer programs that could foster cogenerative behavior and in turn instate an “educational citizenry” as a means of increasing retention, I am in fear that such programs, if set loose without vetting, may, in turn, retract and become mockeries (means of cheating the system as opposed to best engaging with it) in the same way that this article at first implies that Greek Organizations are apt to do.

I suppose one question I now must deal with is how do peer to peer programs give rise to and sustain a code of ethics? Need the code be fluid to meet student demand? And, more so, what would the implications be of such a code or vetting process? How could one ensure that a student sustained program didn’t go off in a clever, though foolish, direction?

There would be little use in investing energy into a program that increases retention while lowering educational experiences. Both must be had or, at a minimum, the first with a neutral influence over the latter.

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