FIJI makes comeback


Phi Gamma Delta unveiled its 21 founding fathers last night to re-establish itself as a colony on the Allegheny campus after a 14-year absence.
Pledge and founding father Trevor Colvin, ’14, said he’s excited to be a founding father and a member of FIJI.
“I knew that this could be something that we mold and create, that if we have the right guys it’s going to be something special,” Colvin said. “So just leaving my mark on it and trying to do the best I can to represent FIJI is what really appealed to me.”
Even though he’s not here to help with the re-colonization on campus now, graduate Chase Stelzer, ‘12, the initiator of the interest group since his freshman year in 2008, thinks the fraternity will be a good attribute to the community, he said in an email.
“I think the campus community will be excited,” Stelzer said. “I imagine a few people are apprehensive about the idea of a new fraternity on campus. But when they consider the amount of good FIJI will do for Greek Life, Allegheny and the community of Meadville, I believe that will change.”
Many rumors have surrounded FIJI since they were kicked off campus in 1998, causing some of the campus community to be hesitant about the organization; however, FIJI Assistant Director of Expansion Brett Pytel said these are rumors and the real reason they were kicked off wasn’t something about the fraternity as a whole, but rather the attitude of the particular chapter.
“They just broke the rules,” Pytel said. “They were that stereotypical fraternity house that is pictured in an animal house, I guess you would say. […] Once the group got closed down, stories come left and right from all over campus.”
FIJI implemented regulations about hazing and alcohol, including creating dry housing, in the 90s, which many chapters adopted without problems. Yet Allegheny’s chapter was more resistant, according to Pytel.
“In the 90s, our organization saw it as a transitional point where we needed to change that culture because it’s not acceptable on campus and it’s not benefitting our members, so we were one of two organizations who went alcohol-free in our housing,” he said. “You can imagine, a smaller campus, along with 18-22 year old students who have been doing this, this is tradition, the transition to get out of that phase and have dry houses was not the easiest in some scenarios.”
In order to break the stigma moving forward, Colvin said he and the other members will have to maintain values and positively affect the community.
“Everything that a brother does in FIJI, we want it to be positive on the campus,” he said. “No matter what it’s in, just be positive.”
Pytel said the stigma against FIJI is already beginning to change.
“They saw that what we said, or what we’re trying to sell to the campus community, isn’t really something we’re selling,” he said. “It’s something that we truly believe and it’s a philosophy. We are genuinely interested in what happens to this community and we care about the group that we’re starting.”
Colvin said he thinks a positive attitude from all the members will define FIJI over time.
“I can’t speak of the entire campus right now, but I hope in the future they see Phi Gamma Delta as a bunch of gentlemen that do the best that they can,” he said. “Whether its academically, on the playing fields, whether they’re in certain clubs, just everything. We’re being the true gentlemen that we’re supposed to be and be positive representatives, not only of FIJI, but Allegheny College Greek Life and the campus as a whole.”
Stelzer said he’s glad to see the fraternity finally re-colonizing and he thinks the recruitment process was successful.
“Some may not be as rigorous as ours, but going from an interest group to a chartered fraternity without a grace period to convey skills and other basics, is analogous to going 0-60 in a second so the short answer is I really like the process,” Stelzer said.
Pytel and Field Assistant Andrew Griffin came from international headquarters to re-establish FIJI on campus. They recruited and prepared the organization by interviewing around 50 potential sophomore through senior members and engaging the campus community in FIJI’s re-colonization efforts as much as they could. Their recommendation-based recruitment features a three-tier interview process, Pytel said, and him and Griffin organize the whole process.
“We just want to give them the information, want to answer any questions they have, and then we facilitate opportunities for all the men who are interested on campus to meet each other,” Pytel said. “The most important thing is, outside all of the other items, is that they kind of get along.”
He said the founding father class has freedom, but plenty of guidance to continue to establish their colony.
“We give [them] all of the pieces to a machine, and they get to build it,” Pytel said. “There’s tons of resources, tons of help.”
Colvin said Pytel and Griffin have been helpful the entire time.
“Brett and Andrew have been awesome,” Colvin said. “They’ve been welcoming and I feel the campus has welcomed them.”
The new founding fathers and pledges of the FIJI colony will be officially initiated at the end of the semester, Pytel said.
FIJI also gave out $1,000 in scholarships to qualified non-Greek male, without any obligation to join. Robert Theiss received the first place scholarship of $500 and Andrew Greiner and Trevor Colvin, ‘14 tied for the second place scholarship.