By Benjamin Pontz, Managing News Editor
Two fraternities received “underachieving” ratings, putting them at risk for derecognition by the college, while one sorority achieved a “Gettysburg Great” rating, earning them $500 for educational programming, in the 2017 Chapter Evaluations conducted by the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life (OSAGL).
The annual evaluations are part of an effort to “define what the expectations were across campus for what would be a successful fraternity or sorority at Gettysburg,” said Joe Gurreri, Director of OSAGL. The current process was developed by a committee of faculty, students, administrators, and alumni based on a charge from Dean of Students Julie Ramsey in 2013.
Each Greek organization is evaluated annually in four categories – Academic Achievement and Intellectual Engagement, Member Recruitment and Retention, Community Engagement, and Organizational Management – and given a composite score of Gettysburg Great, above average, satisfactory, underachieving, or unacceptable. If an organization achieves Gettysburg Great, they receive $500 for educational programming the following year. An underachieving score two consecutive years or an unacceptable score in one year will result in derecognition by the college, Jon Allen, Assistant Director of OSAGL, said.
Only one organization – Sigma Sigma Sigma – achieved Gettysburg Great while two scored underachieving – Sigma Nu and Phi Delta Theta. The remaining seven fraternities and five sororities scored either above average or satisfactory.
“We would say that the overall operations of the Greek community have increased significantly [since the evaluation process began],” Gurreri said. “Based on the initial standards of this process, I think we did feel comfortable with this year’s outcomes. We’ve got a number of groups that are performing at an overall high level.”
The Gettysburg Great is a “very challenging level” to achieve, Gurreri said, which OSAGL is “comfortable” with.
Tri Sigma was the only chapter to meet that standard in 2017. Their evaluation offered glowing praise of the chapter’s efforts to build on their above average rating from 2016, noting, “Tri Sigma has had a phenomenal year of growth and has truly excelled as a chapter.”
The report commended the chapter for forging a strong partnership with its advisor, Dr. Ian Isherwood, Visiting Assistant Professor and Chair of Civil War Era Studies, who has a biweekly one-on-one meeting with the chapter president and hosts open office hours for Tri Sigma members.
“With the chapter receiving the title of Gettysburg Great it’s a bit difficult to identify where their exact areas of improvement are because the points truly speak for themselves.” – 2017 Tri Sigma Chapter Evaluation
“With the chapter receiving the title of Gettysburg Great it’s a bit difficult to identify where their exact areas of improvement are because the points truly speak for themselves,” the report read. “The panel would suggest that they continue to improve and strengthen their Academic Achievement. An excellent goal would be for them to get at least .1 above the all women’s average next year.”
Both Alpha Delta Pi and Sigma Chi achieved Gettysburg Great in 2016 and received scores in 2017 above the Gettysburg Great threshold, but, because the evaluation system requires both an aggregate score above the threshold and Gettysburg Great distinction in each of the four categories, instead received an above average overall rating.
Alpha Delta Pi received an above average score for Organizational Management, falling short of the Gettysburg Great standard due to two “significant conduct incidents that occurred in the fall semester including members failing to engage in responsible social behavior and an unregistered formal that resulted in the over intoxication [sic] of an underage student,” the report read.
In spite of the incidents, the report called the chapter a “high functioning organization” that “exemplifies many of the core aspects of what it truly means to be a sorority and a values based organization” and “has been a successful and influential sorority at Gettysburg for many years.”
Sigma Chi received above average scores for Academic Achievement and Intellectual Engagement as well as Member Recruitment and Retention. Their report said, “In general, the committee was impressed with Sigma Chi’s performance this past year. They recognize that the chapter excels in many areas and tries to go above and beyond wherever possible. Their performance this year was on par with their performance last year. With that being said, with the chapter not demonstrating continued growth in some categories they did not meet the threshold to receive Gettysburg Great.”
In 2016, Lambda Chi Alpha received an underachieving score, but it improved to above average in 2017.
Two chapters – Sigma Nu and Phi Delta Theta – received scores of underachieving in 2017.
Despite an above average score for Member Recruitment and Retention, Sigma Nu’s score was weighed down by unacceptable scores for Academic Achievement and Intellectual Engagement as well as Community Engagement and an underachieving score for Organizational Management.
“Overall, Sigma Nu has declined significantly this year compared to last year … There are so many missed opportunities for the chapter.” – 2017 Sigma Nu Chapter Evaluation
The chapter received no points for community service and no points for members participating in other campus organizations or social justice conversations. Furthermore, the chapter had multiple judicial issues in 2017.
“Overall, Sigma Nu has declined significantly this year compared to last year,” the report read. “There are so many missed opportunities for the chapter, most notably Academic Achievement and Community Engagement. The lack of points earned for these categories [speak] for themselves.”
Sigma Nu’s president for 2017, Edward Dame, did not respond to a request for comment.
Phi Delta Theta received an unacceptable score for Community Engagement and underachieving scores for Academic Achievement and Intellectual Engagement as well as Organizational Management.
While the panel commended the organization for a strong relationship with faculty advisor Dr. Brendan Cushing-Daniels, Associate Professor of Economics, as well as for strong philanthropy, the report noted that the active member grade point average was 0.36 below the all men’s average and that documentation issues held back the chapter from receiving points in categories where they may well have met criteria.
“[T]he chapter has great potential to score highly on the Evaluation Process,” the report read, but noted, “The lack of submitted documentation was a continued challenge from the 2016 Evaluation Process.”
Greg Sachs, who served as President of Phi Delta Theta in 2017, said the chapter is “fully aware” of the scores it received and has established nine new internal committees, each of which is tasked with working towards a particular standard on the evaluation rubric, and has also worked to examine recruiting practices “with the goal of improving the strength of our future new member classes holistically.”
Sachs pointed to the 2.72 semester GPA of new members in the fall semester, which exceeded the overall term average for all members of 2.67, as evidence of the fruits of those efforts.
“Going forward, we will be striving for continual improvement in all facets of chapter operations,” Sachs said, “and have made it our ongoing mission to live out the values of our organization.”
Editor-in-Chief Jamie Welch contributed to this report.
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series on the 2017 Greek evaluations. The first part, which discussed grade reports, is available here. (-B. Pontz)