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It's Fiji!

Jeff Rankin
06/15/2011
Kevin Ross is one of a core group of students behind the new fraternity initiative

After an absence of 140 years, the international men’s fraternity Phi Gamma Delta will once again have a presence on the Monmouth College campus.

College officials announced today that the Greek fraternal organization, popularly known as “Fiji,” was selected from a field of six contenders to become the fifth active MC fraternity chapter.  Earlier this spring, presentations were given on campus by representatives of Fiji, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Delta Tau Delta, Theta Chi, Sigma Chi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, all of which have previously had chapters at Monmouth.

According to associate dean of student life Michelle Merritt, the presentations were attended by members of Monmouth’s existing Greek community, who were given the opportunity to express their preference for which fraternity should be invited to colonize. “Each of the national fraternities gave a compelling presentation and the competition was close,” she said. “In the end, however, the students’ No. 1 choice was Fiji.”
 
A Chi chapter of Phi Gamma Delta previously existed at Monmouth College from 1869-1871.

The impetus for adding a fifth men’s chapter came primarily from a group of male athletes that was seeking to create a fraternity that emphasized not only scholarship and service but also health and wellness. Their efforts, which reflected a recently adopted college initiative to strengthen the Greek life program, were actively supported by the administration.

“The students were particularly impressed by the resources that Fiji offered in helping the new chapter to succeed,” Merritt explained. “This fall, headquarters will send us two representatives, who will spend approximately seven weeks on campus recruiting the founding chapter members through informational meetings, casual events and individual interviews.”

"We are enthusiastic and cannot wait to begin the process of bringing Phi Gamma Delta onto the Monmouth College campus for now and years to come,” said Kevin Ross, a senior from Homer Glen who has been active in the new fraternity initiative. “We've been waiting a long time for this news, and to hear that the final decision came down to Fiji was not only amazing, but is also an honor. Fiji has an amazing national reputation, phenomenal GPA standings, and is known for making a difference while making us better men for our community and for ourselves.”

Sam Karoll, a sophomore from Quincy, concurred. “As a group, we plan on not only making Fiji a model for Greek involvement at Monmouth, but also an organization that can merge the gap between athletics and Greek life to create an all-around more involved campus."

 In conjunction with the announcement, the presidents of Monmouth’s Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils issued the following statement: “When any Greek system is experiencing expansion, it is an exciting time; not only for the fraternity members of the organization but also for the Greek system as a whole. We are pleased to welcome this new group of men into the Monmouth College Greek community and look forward to the influence they will have on advancing our Greek system as a whole.”

To encourage the development of an academically focused chapter, Phi Gamma Delta is offering several academic-based scholarships to MC recruits. All men joining Phi Gamma Delta who achieve at least a 3.0 GPA during their initial semester will receive a $250 Academic Achievement Award. During fall semester, it will also offer up to $1,000 in scholarships to MC men of all classes through its White Star Scholarships.

The new chapter will become the sixth Monmouth Greek organization to have an alcohol-free house policy, a growing movement among national fraternities in which Phi Gamma Delta was an early leader. New Fiji members complete a progressive education period, following which they assume immediate leadership responsibilities.

Headquartered in Lexington, Ky., Phi Gamma Delta was founded in 1848 at Jefferson College (now Washington & Jefferson College) in Canonsburg, Pa. The fraternity has more than 7,200 undergraduate members in 121 chapters and 17 Delta Colonies throughout the United States and Canada. The Monmouth chapter will join several other Fiji chapters in the region at Knox College, Bradley University, Illinois Wesleyan, University of Illinois, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin, Drake University and the University Iowa.