The Collegian
Monday, June 27, 2022

FIJI officially re-establishes chapter with 50 new members

The Rho Chi chapter of Phi Gamma Delta returned this past month

<p>From left to right: Collin Kavanaugh, Doga Barsgan, Carter Kaufmann, Justin Jaffe, Bob Congdon | Courtesy of&nbsp;Eibhlin&nbsp;Villalta</p>

From left to right: Collin Kavanaugh, Doga Barsgan, Carter Kaufmann, Justin Jaffe, Bob Congdon | Courtesy of Eibhlin Villalta

Fifty new members accepted bids for the recently re-established Rho Chi chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, commonly known as FIJI, at University of Richmond this past month.

“The goal is to present a group of well rounded guys: guys who have fun socially, do well in school and still give back to the community,” said sophomore John Lawrance, who was recently elected as the first president of Phi Gamma Delta. 

Five of the Founding Fathers, including Lawrance, were recently elected to the new executive board. The board is very young compared to other established fraternities on campus: three of the men are freshmen and two are sophomores.

“The opportunity to be a Founding Father for FIJI is a really exciting process,” Assistant Director for Greek Life Meg Pevarski said. “One of the goals that we are hoping for is to provide additional men with the opportunity to participate in Greek life.”

Pevarski did not take any role in selecting the new members for FIJI. The fraternity’s national headquarters sent in several staff members, including Duke Murphy, to help with the first recruitment process.

“We do this by looking for men that focus on academics, hold leadership roles [or] want to take on a leadership role, work well with others and, lastly, we want men that are gentlemen,” Murphy said. “We believe that the FIJI gentlemen aspect is crucial.”

The Founding Fathers come from all academic classes. Jordan Chavez decided to join FIJI as a senior.

“Once I met the guys, and also the graduate brothers, it really made me excited about the possibility of being brothers with them even if just for a semester,” Chavez said.

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The new members “have a range of experiences here at the University of Richmond that they are now bringing into the Greek community,” Pevarski said.

This recruitment was a six-week process, Murphy said. The first two weeks were primarily an opportunity for the national members to get the word out through other student organizations on campus. Weeks two through five were for the potential new members to get to know one another as well as the men from the national organization. These were casual interactions such as dinners or pickup football games, Lawrance said. The final week had a set of three interviews.

“Our main goal when coming back to this campus was finding men that were not already Greek and give them an opportunity to join and influence the community,” Murphy said.

Next fall, the fraternity will hold recruitment for sophomores, juniors and seniors on campus.

The original Rho Chi chapter on Richmond’s campus was established Jan. 27, 1890 and ceased on April 7, 2012. The original chapter was removed from campus because of low membership. There was an agreement signed at that time saying that the organization could return in an allotted amount of time, after all of the previous members had graduated, Murphy said. 

“What I am most looking forward to is getting to know some great guys whom I never would have known otherwise,” Chavez said.

Lawrance said the fraternity was currently focused on service and philanthropy. Their goal is to have a service event before spring break. Lawrance is also excited about acting upon several ideas that the new members have already suggested.

“It’s really exciting for them to ask questions and challenge the system and status quo and bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the community to continue to help us to push forward,” Pevarski said.

Contact reporter Megan Healy at megan.healy@richmond.edu. 

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