Fiji Under Fire

Last week the Fraternity Phi Delta Gamma, better known as Fiji, was accused of hazing. The Fraternity is currently under investigation for the reports of hazing. No one from the Greek community would comment to the cynic on the accusations. The Fraternity has been placed on interim suspension pending the investigation. The terms of this suspension being that the Fraternity members are allowed to remain living in the house, but all Fraternity activities and events must conclude. As an offense, hazing is one that UVM takes very seriously. Under the University’s hazing policy, sanctions range from educational classes to the cancellation of an organization and the dismissal of hazing participants. The Fraternity members have not been subject to any sanctions because the investigation is still undergoing. A campus wide e-mail was sent out recently about the alleged incident from the UVM Broadcast Center. The accusations reported in the e-mail were that, “Fraternity members are alleged to have required pledges to wear cowboy outfits during a party – in reference to the movie Brokeback Mountain – and then of taunting them with homophobic language.” The University claims the motivation behind releasing this email is its reluctance to withhold any information from students. During the hazing incident involving the hockey team in 1999, University officials failed to inform students of the crisis. Despite the outcome of the current investigation, the administration did not wish to repeat their mistake. Sandy Kim, the Assistant Director of Greek Life, released a statement last Thursday. “We do not feel it is proper to speculate on the outcome of the investigation until all of the facts are determined and substantiated. If appropriate, judicial actions will be initiated.” She noted that the UVM Greek community does not tolerate hazing. Tom Gustafson, UVM’s Vice President for student and campus life, told the Burlington Free Press that, “Any time there’s even a hint of potential hazing, we want to be very assertive about following up. We’re hoping to get to the bottom of it.” Since there is no factual evidence that has been found, University officials have refused to make any further comments about the alleged incident. Joseph Thibault, a graduate advisor, released a statement on the behalf of the Fraternity’s alumni. “Its [the alumni] initial findings reveal that the incident in question was not a hazing ritual, but rather a private social function the Fraternity held with a Sorority, in which party guests were dressed in the attire from their favorite Oscar-nominated films. Many of the guests were dressed in attire from the popular movie Brokeback Mountain, among other films.” Phi Delta Gamma Alumni found no evidence of “hazing” of pledges at this Oscar-nominated party. The source that filed the accusation is still unknown. “It is unfortunate that someone mistook a costume party for a hazing event.” Thibault said. Thibault stated that all of the Fraternity’s members and the Fraternity’s alumni regret any hurt feelings that were caused by these accusations. The UVM police will conclude the investigation as soon as possible.