The good life
Rain begins to fall as Stilley and her Alpha Chi Angels prepare to compete in the 22nd annual bed races. Also ready to go is freshman Daniel Phillips, the captain of the Sigma Phi Epsilon team, one of 34 registered for the event.
They’re among hundreds of students gathered on an October afternoon in front of Arlington Hall to watch five-person teams—four pushers and a rider—propel beds on wheels down a 150-yard section of Pecan Street. With just one race complete, the sprinkle turns into a deluge, forcing officials to cancel the event for the first time.
After a brief stop in the University Center, Phillips returns to his two-bedroom home at Centennial Court Apartments on the south end of campus.
"I love it here. I've made so many friends, the phone book in my cell phone has tripled."
-freshman Daniel Phillips
The last time the University had empty beds in its residence halls was fall 2000. The waiting list for University-owned apartments ranges from 800 to 1,000. In 2001, Zemmin noted, “demand went through the roof.”
It has continued to rise. With a record 3,400 students living on campus, UTA’s percentage of campus residents exceeds U.T. Austin’s. To meet the demand, a 120-unit apartment complex is under construction and will be ready in August. Another residence hall, one with 370 beds, is scheduled to open a year later.
Though not in a residence hall, Phillips walks to class from his apartment and enjoys his proximity to the Activities Building, where he spends much of his free time exercising and playing intramurals. After undergoing major upgrades last year, including the addition of TV monitors to the cardiovascular machines, the building has become a hot spot for students to hang out as well as work out.
“Usage has increased dramatically since we renovated the building and purchased new cardio and weight-training equipment,” said Campus Recreation Director Doug Kuykendall. “From about 7 p.m. until closing, it truly is ‘the place’ on campus where students congregate. You’ll see virtually every piece of equipment in use and students having a good time.”
Good times that almost didn’t include Phillips.
He came to UTA last fall as part of a special admissions agreement between UTA and U.T. Austin. Under the program, students selected by U.T. Austin who perform well as freshmen at UTA on specified courses are eligible to transfer to Austin in their second year.
But after that first semester, Phillips decided to stay at UTA. “I love it here,” he said, while noting that pledging a fraternity was key in his decision. “I’ve made so many friends, the phone book in my cell phone has tripled.”
Aguero has witnessed the same phenomenon.
“Lots of the U.T. provisional students have joined Alpha Chi Omega, and many are deciding to stay,” she said. “Once you get involved, you pretty much find a reason to stay.”
One of those reasons is the excitement that’s building for UTA athletics. Phillips experienced a dose of the hysteria as he sat amid the Maverick Maniacs during an early-season men’s basketball game.