FIJI fraternity given second chance on campus
Student Senate passed in a 22-1 vote the Phi Gamma Delta’s Epsilon Chi (Fiji) chapter constitution Monday night, making them an official UW-Eau Claire organization again.
After the allegations of two sexual assaults, which are currently under investigation by the Eau Claire Police Department, took place at the organization’s chapter house at 1404 State St., Dean of Students Brian Carlisle did an internal investigation on violations of university policies by FIJI.
Carlisle then suspended the organization for several violations, including possession and selling of alcohol, possession of Eau Claire city properties and the construction of an ice rink in their property.
“I understand some of you are not happy with us because of our past actions,” said Nick Lund, president of FIJI, during the Student Senate open forum. “What I would like to do is to tell you what our fraternity has to offer and how it’s going to be the group of men that this campus deserves.”
Lund went on to say that every organization has bad members and when one member does something wrong, it reflects poorly in the entire organization.
“While we do not blame a single person for the events that have happened in 1404 State St., we would like to remind everyone else that there are still many great members that are part of that organization,” he said.
For an organization to have its constitution approved, they have to meet a set of criteria, which FIJI did. Vice President Mark Morgan said that regardless of the senators’ moral, ethical, religious or political objections, FIJI had met all the criteria and their constitution had to pass.
“As long as they have met the criteria that we have established, we cannot vote them down,” Morgan said. “I think they deserve a fresh start and I hope that they use it wisely.”
Student Senator Paydon Miller, who abstained from FIJI’s constitution vote, said in an interview after the meeting that he was very disappointed with the outcome and that morally it was the wrong thing to do.
“I think that the argument that the problems of FIJI were caused by one or two bad apples is completely ridiculous,” Miller said. “I mean, we’re fooling ourselves if we believe six months is enough time … to make any kind of real changes.”
Lund said that during their suspension, they had time to make changes and improve as an organization. He said that they are currently under graduate trusteeship, which means they have seven graduate advisers helping them making these changes.
“The suspension has helped us figure out where our faults are as well as to improve on them,” Lund said. “We are committed to provide opportunities to each brother to develop responsibility, leadership, scholarship, and social skills to become a fully contributing member of society.”
Carlisle, who spoke at the meeting, said that FIJI deserves a new start.
“I’ve been working very closely with the leaders of the organization, and I truly believe that they have done significant strives to make changes in their organization,” he said. “They hold themselves accountable for their behavior and I’m looking forward to (making) really positive contributions to the institution and I fully support them.”
Although the constitution was passed, it won’t be active until May 23, since FIJI is still suspended from all activities until May 22.