ASUCI Legislative Council approved R49-98, a legislation condemning Phi Gamma Delta’s “FIJI Islander” party, with a vote of 14 in favor and one abstention, at last Thursday’s meeting.
The decision followed two student protests as well as last Thursday’s council meeting, where a presentation was made by students detailing the alleged racist nature of the party’s theme and over 30 people offered public comment, most criticizing the fraternity’s actions.
Although her constituents were concerned about the legislation infringing on principles of free speech, Lauren Hineman, speaker of the legislative council and herself a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, supported the legislation.
“I support free speech, but I don’t think it should be at the expense of other students on campus,” Hineman said.
The sole person to vote against the legislation, Nick Harris, an at-large representative who was appointed at the same meeting, felt that although the fraternity could have handled the situation better by not remaining silent, students’ protest was also extreme.
“Have FIJI say something instead of remain silent. Issue an apology and maybe come out and talk to some of these people and hopefully there can be a fair sitdown and talk instead of protesting and let FIJI have their voices heard,” Harris, who himself is a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, said.
The fraternity has yet to issue an official statement regarding the party, protests or legislation.
Phi Gamma Delta alumni have also commented on news of the legislation’s passing, saying that it is an excessive form of political correctness.
Josh Roxas, a current member of the UCI chapter Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, reminded members on the fraternity’s official international Facebook page that ASUCI’s legislation, although it holds the fraternity in contempt, is symbolic.
“Although our student government passed this legislation against us, they have no official authority to make us change our name nor change our Islander. The only ones who can do so are the actual school administrators,” Roxas said.
With the quarter winding down and council representatives graduating, students were concerned about how the fraternity is going to be held accountable moving forward.
“Many legislations get passed over the years but not much gets done,” Alexander Fung, the business school representative, said.
Two resolutions were amended to the legislation by its author, ICS representative Patrick Chen, during the council meeting in hopes of addressing issues of accountability.
The first resolution called upon the council to create an ad hoc committee before the academic year is over to follow up with not only the fraternity itself, but also Interfraternity Council, campus staff and administrators, to make sure the legislation’s resolutions are addressed.
Chen reiterated Fung’s sentiments as the reason why he added the second amendment to the legislation.
“Too often, student concerns on issues affecting campus climate are lost and forgotten. This is the least I could do within the legislation to implement some form of follow up and accountability,” Chen, whose amendment attempts to account for what he has seen as a trend of negligent responses to incidents impacting campus climate, said.
The resolution’s language specifically targets the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, Interfraternity Council, Greek President’s Council, Greek Life, Student Life & Leadership and Student Affairs to take action on the incident. According to the legislation, silence or inaction on behalf of the implicated Greek students and administration would “reinforce racism against, dismissal of, and silencing of Fijian and Pacific Islander student voices.”
Nicole Inouye, an advisor for Greek Life, said that her office is working with the Interfraternity Council on implementing the guidelines and expectations created, approved and enforced by the council of fraternities.
Article XVI, Section 1, Item B of the Interfraternity Council’s bylaws state that “No event shall misrepresent, stereotype, mock, mimic, or appropriate any of the following: race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and/or culture.”
Usually the advisor for the Multicultural Greek Council, composed of cultural-based Greek organizations, Inouye has been in charge of the Interfraternity Council since its usual advisor, Brian Clarke, left for paternity leave.
“The Greek Life Office and Student Life & Leadership are in the process of identifying ways to address concerns and take more proactive measures to shift the culture of the community through continued education on topics related to diversity and social justice,” Inouye said in an email.
Save Gasaiwai, who claims to be the only Fijian student on campus, said that he is disappointed in the amount of inaction from both the fraternity and administrators.
“When we confronted Justin about it, he seemed like he was convinced that what they were doing was wrong,” Gasaiwai said. “As everything was unfolding, he started to go back on his word.”
Despite having met with an administrator, Gasaiwai also expressed his dissatisfaction regarding administration’s hard line regarding scheduling available times to meet with him.