Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji, received its official chapter charter from its international headquarters on Saturday and held an open house event Friday in celebration.
Although Fiji was started at USC in 1948, it closed its chapter in 2000 because of financial instability and returned to The Row in October 2009. Since then, Fiji has been nationally recognized as a colony, which is a probationary period before becoming an official chapter, said Austin Hay, former president of Fiji.
During this period, the members were not allowed to know some national Fiji rituals and secrets and were not permitted to put their Greek letters on their house.
“We weren’t able to be brothers in the strictest sense, and the legitimacy wasn’t there,” Hay said. “We weren’t allowed to have our letters on the house or wear the real pin.”
Bill Martin, executive director of Fiji International, noted the difficulty in moving from colony to fully accredited fraternity.
“It’s a challenge for every colony because you’re doing everything for the first time,” Hay said. “It takes extra energy and commitment.”
Martin said granting a charter is a reward for a colony’s hard work and indicates it is ready to become a full-fledged chapter.
Adam Laufer, president of USC’s Fiji chapter, explained the charter will not change day-to-day operations of the fraternity, but it does provide Fiji with the privileges of being full-fledged brothers of Fiji international.
“We’ve revived a chapter that started in 1948, and it’s very historical,” Martin said. “We’re pleased to be back at this particular institution.”
Hay said the occasion is particularly special for those who were part of Fiji’s first new pledge class in fall 2009.
“It’s a momentous occasion for us because it means a lot to the founding fathers who have been waiting for two years,” Hay said.
The process of returning to The Row and recruiting members has not been an easy one for Fiji members.
“One of the hardest things for us is making a name for ourselves on The Row and standing out to the point where we can recruit quality men to join,” Laufer said. “It’s hard being a new chapter because of how competitive it is, but as you grow it gets easier and easier every year.”
Tyson Beem, graduate advisor and former member of Fiji, commended the brothers for outstanding work despite the difficulties of being a new chapter.
“These guys have had to take on leadership roles because there weren’t any seniors when we started out,” Beem said. “They have phenomenal grades and put on great philanthropies, and they’ve made a good name for themselves on The Row.”