[UTA Magazine]


The good life
Across the court from Charles, Chad Tolentino and 10 of his fraternity brothers revel in the excitement of the first basketball practice of the season. They made the short trek to Texas Hall from the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on Greek Row and are among the 1,700 students still up at midnight enjoying slam-dunk and three-point shooting contests, performances by the cheerleader and dance squads, door prizes, free pizza and the introduction of the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The women's basketball team cheers at Midnight Madness.
The women's basketball team cheers during the three-point shooting contest at Midnight Madness.

“There was a definite excitement and anticipation from the crowd at this year’s Midnight Madness,” Kurt Kmak, events, promotions and marketing director for the Athletics Department, said as the season got under way. “People had a feeling that this could be a breakout year for both the men’s and women’s teams and were eager to see them for the first time.”

Chad Tolentino in front of Sigma Phi Epsilon House
"The word is getting out that UTA is becoming more traditional," says senior Chad Tolentino, who lives in the Sigma Phi Epsilon House on Greek Row.

The energy permeating athletics and other areas of campus can be attributed, in part, to Tolentino and his fellow Greeks. Last year, fraternities and sororities boasted 28 percent more members than 2001 and 43 percent more than 2000, said Greek life adviser Elizabeth Wade.

“With the change in UTA’s demographics to younger, more traditional students, there are more people interested in joining Greek organizations,” Wade said. The addition of chapters, which now total 27, is another factor.

Nine of the chapters have houses on Greek Row, including the new Alpha Chi Omega house and the soon-to-be-finished Delta Delta Delta house. Situated along Greek Row Drive, Summit Street and Davis Drive on the western edge of campus, Greek Row offers the advantage of on-campus living with a dozen or so like-minded individuals.

"There's always something to do here. You're close to the Activities Building. Everything is a short walk away."
-Greek Row resident Chad Tolentino

Tolentino, who pledged in fall 2000, has lived in the Sig Ep house for two years. “There’s always something to do there. You’re close to the Activities Building. Everything is a short walk away,” he said. “My fraternity brothers provide a family away from my own family.”

Many Greeks are members of organizations outside their chapters. They currently hold four of the most prominent campus leadership positions: Mr. and Ms. UTA and Student Congress president and vice president.

“The Greek-letter organizations have in the past and continue today to play a large role in campus leadership,” said Kent Gardner, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “Many of our most active alumni were student leaders in Greek-letter organizations.”

"The Greek-letter organizations have in the past and continue today to play a large role in campus leadership."
-Dean of Students Kent Gardner

As vice president for programming, Tolentino, 22, is one of the leaders of his fraternity. His responsibilities include planning social gatherings and philanthropic projects. This semester, he’ll coordinate a softball tournament featuring 1,000 players from five states, with proceeds benefiting charity and scholarships.

But his campus involvement goes beyond Sig Ep activities. The kinesiology senior from Mesquite is a three-year veteran of the lacrosse team, a sport club that competes against teams from nine universities, including Texas A&M and U.T. Austin. And he and his friends rarely miss a Lady Mavericks home basketball game, where they stand courtside with arms pounding on the edge of the elevated Texas Hall hardwood.

They also didn’t miss another of last semester’s major campus events: a concert by rock band Everclear.

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