Phi Gamma Delta (ΦΓΔ also known as FIJI and Phi Gam) is a social fraternity with more than 158 active chapters and 13 colonies across the United States and Canada. It was founded at Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, in 1848. Along with Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Gamma Delta forms a half of the Jefferson Duo. Since its founding in 1848, the fraternity has initiated more than 170,000 brothers. The nickname FIJI is used commonly by the fraternity due to Phi Gamma Delta bylaws that limit the use of the Greek letters.
The organization was founded on April 22, 1848, at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Six college students gathered in a dormitory room (known by the students as "Fort Armstrong") to establish a secret society. The society they formed was initially called "The Delta Association". The founders, referred to by members as the "Immortal Six", were John Templeton McCarty, Samuel Beatty Wilson, James Elliott Jr., Ellis Bailey Gregg, Daniel Webster Crofts, and Naaman Fletcher.
The first regular meeting of Phi Gamma Delta and the adoption of the Fraternity's Constitution took place on May 1, 1848. Consequently, May 1 was chosen to be "Founder's Day" at the 43rd Convention held in 1891 and has traditionally been celebrated as the founding date of the Fraternity.
Contrary to popular belief, the Immortal six were not Freemasons when they entered Jefferson College.
Phi Gamma Delta has chosen not to use the term alumni for members who have graduated; post collegiate members are referred to as Graduate Brothers, to imply that membership extends past the undergraduate experience. Similarly, one of the mottoes used by the organization is, "Not For College Days Alone".
Phi Gamma Delta's mission statement lists five core values for its members: friendship, knowledge, service, morality, and excellence. In addition, members are encouraged to live by three priorities in a specific order: first, scholarship, second, fraternity, and third, self. This ordering is because members attend university with the foremost goal of receiving an education, and that Phi Gamma Delta is a fraternity that promotes scholastic achievement amongst its members.
Phi Gamma Delta limits the written display of its Greek letters. In accordance with the fraternity's international bylaws, Fiji chapters and members only inscribe their letters in the following seven locations:
The fraternity instructs its members to consider the letters sacred and to never display them on an object that can be easily destroyed. Whereas other fraternities often display their letters on clothing or other items, this tradition prevents Fijis from doing so. In place of the actual Greek letters, "Fiji," "Phi Gam," or the English spelling "Phi Gamma Delta" is used in their place.
The Fiji nickname started at New York University as a suggested name for the Fraternity magazine (Fee Gee). It was officially adopted by the national fraternity at the 1894 convention in the belief that the term would be distinctive and appeal to the imagination. Prior to its formal appropriation by the organization at large, nicknames for members of the fraternity varied greatly; ranging from "Phi Gamm" and "Delta" by brothers across the nation, "Fee Gee" in New York, and "Gammas" in the South. As of now though, "Fiji" and "Phi Gam" are considered by the fraternity to be the only appropriate nicknames for Phi Gamma Delta members on the international scale, though local nicknames related to a chapter's Greek name or other colloquialisms do exist.
The fraternity is composed of chapters of two types. Most chapters serve primarily undergraduate students and are established at a single college or university . There are also chapters to serve members of the fraternity who have graduated from college and are established to serve a city or larger region. The chapters are governed by the fraternity's international headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky.
Each year the Phi Gamma Delta organization gives out a number of awards, both to chapters, and to individual members.
The Frank Norris Pig Dinner is an annual graduate dinner held by all Phi Gamma Delta chapters. The dinner is named for author Frank Norris, a member of the Fiji chapter at the University of California, Berkeley where the first Pig Dinner was held in 1893. Pig Dinner is sanctioned by the International Fraternity and it serves to welcome graduate brothers back to their undergraduate chapters.
The International Fraternity stores a list of annual Pig Dinners.
Affectionately built upon the "Fiji" nickname, many chapters hold an annual "Fiji Islander" party. These are typically large festivities with tropical themes often using banana and palm trees as decoration, although they can vary widely from chapter to chapter. Some are large parties where alcohol, sand and tropical foliage are present, others may be alcohol free, and some Fiji Islander events are charity projects rather than parties.
The tradition made headlines in May 2014 when a University of California, Irvine student of Fijiian descent complained to the university that the fundraiser as well as the fraternity nickname was an offensive example of cultural appropriation.
On January 21, 2017 Phi Gamma Delta fraternity members in Lincoln, Nebraska were claimed to have screamed pro-rape slurs at participants of the 2017 Women's March. Chants of "no means yes, yes means anal" were allegedly aimed at thousands of women, children, and men walking past the fraternity house on the University of Nebraska campus. Fraternity members were accused on social media of waving Donald Trump signs and screaming, "grab them by the pussy," and then announcing which marchers they would and would not want to "grab by the pussy". Multiple protesters have said that they heard the fraternity members chanting, which a spokesperson for the fraternity has denied. One week later, a protest was held outside the fraternity's chapter-house. The protest was attended by about 50 people, include an antifa group which flung tampons dipped in red paint at the building.
In 1997, as part of an allegedly mandatory hazing event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology chapter, 18-year-old freshman Scott Krueger died as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. Manslaughter charges were brought against the Phi Gamma Delta organization itself, rather than any individuals. In response, the chapter dissolved and the case was suspended. MIT later settled with Krueger's family for 4.75 million dollars.
On September 17, 2010 a prospective member (pledge), Matt Fritzie, was partially paralyzed after diving into a shallow pool during a Fiji Islander party in Lawrence, Kansas. In response to the incident, the University of Kansas placed the chapter on a two-year probation for hazing. Fritzie has since sued both the chapter and the national organization.
On April 4, 2014, Michael Evan Anderson, member of the University of Arizona chapter of FIJI died after an unsanctioned FIJI event, after falling 20 feet (6 m) from the top of an air conditioning unit onto the roof of his dormitory. The investigation of his death by the University Police led to an investigation from the Dean of Students Office which included several counts of hazing, including kicking new members in the stomach, new members cleaning the house before and after parties and performing personal acts of servitude to members.
In 2015, five members of the fraternity at the University of Alabama were arrested after an investigation into hazing of their pledges. Per a legitimate anonymous source, fraternity members required pledges to stand in buckets of ice and salt, resulting in severe injuries.
In 2017, the fraternity at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln was suspended by the university until 2020 for reckless alcohol use, hazing pledges and inappropriate sexually based behavior, including a pattern of sexually harassing conduct.
Fijis at the Lambda chapter at Indiana Asbury University (now known as DePauw University) played an important role in the founding of Kappa Alpha Theta women's fraternity. Bettie Locke, the sister of George W. Locke (DePauw, 1871), was one of the first women enrolled at DePauw. Bettie had many Fiji friends and one of them asked her to wear his badge. She contended that she would do so only if she knew the secrets behind the letters. The fraternity, after debate, declined to initiate her. So, upon suggestion of her father, Dr. John Wesley Locke, a Beta Theta Pi, she formed Kappa Alpha Theta with Alice Allen, Bettie Tipton and Hannah Fitch; four of the small number of women enrolled at DePauw at the time. Kappa Alpha Theta was founded on January 27, 1870. Phi Gamma Delta later presented Bettie Locke with an engraved silver cake basket as a token of friendship.