By Brittany Wise, Transcript Correspondent
Four years after the doors of Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) closed at Ohio Wesleyan, the fraternity has returned to restore the values it once held on campus.
During the mid-2000s Fiji’s numbers started to decline, and their members were straying from the values of the fraternity. In 2008, the graduates decided to close the chapter.
They worked in partnership with the university, knowing they could return in the future and re-establish the chapter with a values-based recruitment effort, according to Brett Pytel and Josh Moore, representatives of the International Headquarters of Phi Gamma Delta.
After presenting to a Greek Life Expansion Committee, it was decided that Fiji would return to campus Spring of 2012.
With the help of Pytel and Moore, the chapter will choose men to be the founding fathers of the chapter.The men chosen will have the unique task and opportunity to build the foundation of OWU’s reestablished Theta Deuteron chapter.
“The organizational structure, tone and presence at OWU will be determined by values, determination and motivation of each individual member,” Pytel said. “They will be responsible for becoming fully contributing members throughout the OWU community.”
The process of selecting the founding fathers will extend over six weeks.
During this period, interested men will have the opportunity to learn more about the organization, ask questions, hear about experiences from graduates and meet men that share the same interest of rejuvenating Fiji.
On March 8, the initial founding fathers will be chosen and pledged to the fraternity. The same evening a dessert reception called “Evening with the Fijis” will be held off campus.
“Everyone on campus will be invited to this formal event to help celebrate the return of Phi Gamma Delta to Ohio Wesleyan,” Pytel said. “The Fraternity will introduce the new men, give away their scholarships, philanthropy money and thank the entire campus community for being such gracious hosts.”
Because academic achievement is one of Fiji’s values, several academic-based scholarships will be available for students.
According to Moore, all the men who join Fiji and uphold at least a 3.0 GPA will receive a $500 Academic Achievement Award. There will also be scholarships available to those who don’t go through initiation.
“There is no commitment to join the organization or even participate in the recruitment process to be eligible to receive this scholarship,” Moore said. “The graduates from the chapter wanted to show their commitment to having a strong relationship with the university with their return and give back to the community at the same time.”
The next event will be an information session on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.
Pytel said he was looking forward to reaching out to the OWU community and reaching out to individuals who thought they wouldn’t consider Greek life.
“Being a fraternity man is more than wearing a Fiji t-shirt,” he said.
Fiji’s sister sorority is Kappa Alpha Theta, which has an active chapter on campus.
Sophomore Sarah Hartzheim, a member of Theta, said she is excited to have the brother fraternity of her sorority on campus again.
“The Fiji recruiters have really impressed us by meeting with sorority chapters, coming to school events and being so enthusiastic about their recruitment,” she said. “I hope this will encourage all students in Greek life to support school events and the other chapters. We (Theta) definitely plan to really get to know Fiji once they’re back on campus.”
The Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity has over 7,700 undergraduate members on 140 campuses throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Other chapters in the region are located at the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, The Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve University and Michigan State University, to name a few.
The Theta chapter of Fiji at OWU was founded on Oct. 25, 1869. Notable alumni include Charles W. Fairbanks (1872), Cecil J. “Scoop” Wilkinson (1917), Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (1920), Bob Bauman (1953), Douglas Dittrick (1955), Phil Meek (1959).