Phi Gamma Delta turned over a new leaf when they re-opened a chapter at Utah State University this semester. Phi Gamma Delta, or “FIJI” as they nicknamed themselves, began recruiting for members to join their ranks last semester.
Phi Gamma Delta was originally a fraternity on Utah State’s campus in the 1970’s, but disbanded because of low membership.
As interest has recently increased, past members of the fraternity decided they wanted to bring it back to USU. Interested students called the headquarters of Phi Gamma Delta on the east coast, who then sent two recruiters named Dio and Ian to Utah State to make things happen.
“A table was set up in the TSC to start recruiting, and one by one we all kind of fell together until we had enough guys to organize something,” FIJI colony president Chuck Deakins said.
Because FIJI is still considered a small group of just 25 members, they are known as a colony. But Deakins has hope that with this year’s RUSH week, they will be able to double their membership to at least 50 members.
Connor Searle, a sophomore majoring in marketing, considers Dio and Ian to be two of “the coolest guys he’d ever met.”
“They impressed me with FIJI and their focus on education and excellence,” Searle said. “One thing Ian likes to say is that ‘FIJI puts their money where their mouth is’ when it comes to their focus on education. I’ve already received two different scholarships from joining FIJI after just one semester.”
Deakins finds his experience as FIJI president to be one that is very humbling. He was nominated by some of his fraternity brothers in an official meeting, unanimously.
“I didn’t ask for it,” Deakins said. “I was never seeking out a leadership position, but my fraternity brothers saw it in me, and viewed me for the leader I could be, not the leader I was. That’s a lot of trust.”
As far as their philanthropy is concerned, FIJI’s is still a work in progress.
“Just because we are still trying to figure things out doesn’t mean we aren’t doing something. We are working a lot with children right now, and especially with after-school programs,” Deakins said.
FIJI has many goals for the future, one of those goals being to help aid in a cure for cancer.
“We have aspirations, and our vision is to eventually align ourselves with a philanthropy organization in Cache Valley that has to do with cancer,” Deakins said. “Something that helps us take more progressive steps to find a cure, or help make the lives of those living with cancer easier.”
Tony Ahlstrom, a communication studies major, found out about the FIJI fraternity through an Instagram post he came across from USU Student Body President Michael Scott Peters.
Ahlstrom enjoys being a member of the fraternity because of the growth and development of the members he associates with.
“I love the service opportunities, brotherhood, and leadership development, but my favorite part is the opportunities it gives us as men to make a difference in the community, how to have responsibilities and how to be accountable for carrying out said responsibilities,” Ahlstrom said.
Deakins hopes to help people realize that fraternities and sororities are not all the media makes them out to be.
“People hear fraternities or sororities, and they picture partying and drinking and all of that, but it’s really not always like that,” Deakins said. “The majority of what we do is philanthropy and community-oriented. We’re social and we throw parties every once in a while, but we’re responsible, and we take pride in that.”
Searle has high hopes of great things to come for the future of the FIJI fraternity.
“As a brand new fraternity, there’s no precedent set, so it’s been such a cool experience to be able to build from the ground up,” Searle said. “It’s definitely challenging starting off with nothing, but we have a great group of guys that are all motivated and excited about what FIJI has to offer to Utah State.”
To those looking to get involved in the FIJI fraternity, RUSH week will be held Jan. 29-Feb. 2.
Searle encourages everyone to find something at Utah State to get involved with, whether that be FIJI or something entirely different.
“Joining a fraternity has given me access to so many connections and has allowed me to meet so many people,” Searle said. “I’ve gotten service hours and leadership experiences that have already been helpful to me.”
Ahlstrom hopes that others will look past the exterior and will give FIJI a chance.
“Nothing is how it seems from the outside. Particularly in regards to mental health or depression, getting involved gives you a family that will help you get past anything you face in this life. It will change your life, prepare you for the future, and help you find yourself,” Ahlstrom said.
Deakins said that FIJI’s most important focus right now is recruitment and preparing for RUSH week.
“At this point, it just becomes a process of finding potential members that we think embody the values that Phi Gamma Delta has,” Deakins said. “We’re very excited for the future, and we’re really excited to be a part of the Utah State community.”