After reading Jackson Long’s@@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&s=Jackson+Long@@ article about Greek life GPAs, I was less than sold. From the data that he showed us, he seemed to be implying that being in a fraternity or sorority gave one a distinct advantage in the realm of academics. This may be true with their collection of past tests, quizzes and homework assignments. That is not why I am writing this letter. The data that Jackson Long gave in the article, while not incorrect, is extremely misleading.
He claims that “for the third-straight term — a full academic year — the fraternity and sorority community as a whole notched a higher grade point average than the combined GPA of all undergraduates.” This is a correct statement, for in fall term 2011, the average Greek GPA was 3.09 and the average undergraduate GPA was 3.05. Long attributes this difference to being in Greek life because they are “performing better than the average student.”
After taking a closer look at the GPA data on the fraternity/sorority life website, I found that being in Greek life gave no advantage in the realm of academics. In fall 2011, the average fraternity GPA was 3.01 and the average male undergraduate GPA was also 3.01. Both the average sorority and female undergraduate average GPA was 3.14. For each gender, being in Greek life did not change the average GPA when compared to the rest of the undergraduate population. However, when averaged together, the GPA of Greek life was higher. How could this be?
Anyone who has taken any statistics class knows to look for confounding variables when searching for causal relationships. Greek life has a higher female-to-male ratio than does the undergraduate population (Greek female:male ratio = 61:39; undergraduate ratio = 51.5:48.5). This higher proportion of females to males skews the average GPA towards the average women GPA. The higher Greek GPA is due to sample selection and the fact that females tend to do better in school than males — not because of their little clubs.
At the University, Greek life does not “outperform” the rest of the student population. I take offense to people saying such things without the data to back it up. Greek life often complains about its bad reputation on campus, saying that their reputation is not based in facts. In reality, Long did exactly what Greek life complains about: He created and perpetuated a statement based on false information. I do not know whether his mistake was due to dishonesty or ignorance, but either way, it does not display the “morals” and “values” that Greek life supposedly represents.