Phi Gamma Delta (also known as FIJI) is a collegiate social fraternity with 107 chapters and 7 colonies across the United States and Canada. It was founded at Jefferson College, Pennsylvania in 1848 and its headquarters are located in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. Phi Gamma Delta is a member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference and, along with the Fraternity of Phi Kappa Psi, forms the Jefferson Duo.
In 1803 only a small percentage of Americans attended college. Those who did had relatively few choices, especially in what was then the frontier lands of western Pennsylvania near Canonsburg. There a Presbyterian clergyman named John A. McMillan (1752–1833) had just arrived from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) to begin his ministry. In the year 1776, McMillan, called the "Apostle of the West", was called to take charge of all the lands west of the Allegheny Mountains. This he did, and soon after he established a Latin school in a small log cabin. This small school grew with time to become the Canonsburg Academy in 1791 and, by 1802, Jefferson College.At the time, Jefferson College was one of the largest institutions of higher learning in North America, boasting 207 enrolled students and ten professors. Thus the origins of Washington and Jefferson College, and Phi Gamma Delta, are inextricably linked to a log cabin on the Pennsylvania frontier.
On the night of Saturday, April 22, 1848 at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, six college students gathered in a dormitory room (known by the students as "Fort Armstrong") and determined to establish a secret society. The society they formed is called the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. The founders, reverently referred to by Brothers today as the "Immortal Six", are John Templeton McCarty, Samuel Beatty Wilson, James Elliott, Jr., Ellis Bailey Gregg, Daniel Webster Crofts, and Naaman Fletcher. The first regular meeting of Phi Gamma Delta and the adoption of the Fraternity's Constitution took place on May 1, 1848. Consequently, May 1 was chosen to be "Founder's Day" at the 43rd Convention held in 1891 and has traditionally been celebrated as the founding date of the Fraternity ever since.
The "Immortal Six" are the six men who founded the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. Each of them graduated from Jefferson College in 1848 except for Namaan Fletcher who graduated a year later in the class of 1849.
The rewards of membership extend far beyond one's college years through continued commitment to the values, the brothers, and the Educational Foundation. This is why Fiji did not adopt the name "alumni." Rather, post collegiate members are known as "Graduate Brothers," implying that membership extends far beyond the undergraduate experience. The commitment exemplifies another motto by which Phi Gams live, "Not For College Days Alone", and an organization of fathers and sons within Phi Gamma Delta known as "Sires and Sons".
"Phi Gamma Delta exists to promote lifelong friendships, to reaffirm high ethical standards and values, and to foster personal development in the pursuit of excellence. Phi Gamma Delta is committed to provide opportunities to each brother to develop responsibility, leadership, scholarship and social skills in order to become a fully contributing member of society.
We are united by Friendship. It is the basis of our brotherhood. Because of it, we accomplish far more than we do as individuals. Friendship is the sweetest influence.
We promote the pursuit of Knowledge. It is the key to a fuller, richer life. We gain it through education, the harmonious development of the powers of the individual.
We encourage Service. We have the ability, the opportunity, and the duty to serve our fellow human beings. Our reward is the satisfaction that comes from serving.
We believe in Morality. As gentlemen of quality we must do what is right as individuals and as a group. Moral behavior is the basis of our society’s existence.
We strive for Excellence. It is attained only when we fulfill our total potential. Mankind benefits when each of us becomes all that we can be.
A brother of Phi Gamma Delta has his life ordered by three priorities:
Phi Gamma Delta limits the written display of its Greek letters. In accordance with the fraternity's international bylaws, Fiji chapters and members only portray their letters in the following seven locations:
The fraternity's letters are, thus, considered sacred and are never to be displayed on an object that can be easily destroyed. Whereas other fraternities often display their letters on clothing or other items, this tradition prevents Fijis from doing so. In place of the actual Greek letters, "Fiji," "Phi Gam," or the English spelling of "Phi Gamma Delta" are used in their place.
Fiji, a nickname started at New York University, was officially adopted by the national fraternity in 1894 in the belief that the term would be distinctive and appeal to the imagination. Prior to its formal appropriation by the organization at large, nicknames for members of the fraternity varied greatly; ranging from "Phi Gamm" and "Delta" by brothers across the nation, "Fee Gee" in New York, and "Gammas" in the South. As of now though, "Fiji" and "Phi Gam" are considered the only appropriate nicknames for Phi Gamma Delta members on the international scale, though local nicknames related to a chapter's Greek name or other colloquialisms do exist.
After graduating from Jefferson College in June 1848 and studying law in Indiana, John T. McCarty headed west along the California Trail during the Gold Rush. He left in the spring of 1849 and along the trail, near the continental divide in what is today Wyoming, one of the most amazing incidents in Phi Gamma Delta's early history occurred. McCarty met Bolivar G. Krepps (Jefferson College, 1849), a member of Phi Gamma Delta whom McCarty had never previously met. The two had attended Jefferson College but Krepps was initiated into Phi Gamma Delta after McCarty had graduated. Yet, on July 7, 1849 here they stood, on the banks of the Sweetwater River, by complete coincidence. Both had decided to go West independently to seek their fortunes and, at a time when the total number of Phi Gamma Delta initiates was 25, two of them were shaking hands and drinking a toast to the "Delta Association", as it was known then, and to all Brothers who should live after them.
Fijis at the Lambda chapter at Indiana Asbury University (now known as DePauw University) played an important role in the founding of Kappa Alpha Theta women's fraternity. Bettie Locke, the sister of George W. Locke (DePauw, 1871), was one of the first women enrolled at DePauw. Bettie had many Fiji friends and one of them asked her to wear his badge. She contended that she would do so only if she knew the secrets behind the letters. The Fijis, after considerable debate, declined to initiate her. So, upon suggestion of her father, Dr. John Wesley Locke, a Beta Theta Pi, she formed Kappa Alpha Theta with Alice Allen, Bettie Tipton and Hannah Fitch; four of just a handful of women enrolled at DePauw at the time. Kappa Alpha Theta made its debut on January 27, 1870, making it the first Greek-letter fraternity established for women. The Fijis, in a spirit of friendship and appreciation, later presented Bettie Locke with an engraved silver cake basket.