By Brian Baudoin
As national advisors, we regularly accept the perils of travel as a part of serving our men. We endure hours on the road, crowded airports and even days at sea to reach our men for the purpose of better serving them in brotherhood and unity. Okay, so I have never had to take a boat to get to a chapter, but maybe one day. Regardless, these dangers are never more present than the harrowing 45-minute drive up I-35 to Denton from Fort Worth. While I may have to experience longer trips to other chapters, UNT is my only chapter that requires driving through metroplex traffic.
Last week, I made my visit to the men at the University of North Texas. There have been many great things happening for our neighbor chapter to the north this semester. I came in the week after an awesome on-campus Island Party. The event was originally scheduled to be a day time event in the middle of campus but had to be altered due to the weather. Thankfully, the university was more than accommodating and moved Island Party inside to the middle of the student union.
It was a great event for campus exposure, and many students had a good time attending. The party was Texas State fair themed which meant cotton candy machines, a mechanical bull and a balloon animal artist, among other attractions. The only thing that did not make it into the union was the dunking booth, which upset many members who were looking forward to dunking their officers.
I arrived on Monday for my first meeting with President Christian Salazar at Crooked Crust Pizza near campus in Denton. I had never heard of it before, but, after eating there, I wish I had heard of it earlier. Christian is passionate about the fraternity and his men, which led to great conversation about how this officer corps can advance the chapter with the time that it has remaining in office. He is fraternally minded and has a good grasp on Greek culture on campus.
Following the meeting with Christian, I met with Secretary Brandon Bolin. It was a great conversation, especially since Brandon has been on top of his game this semester in terms of keeping me informed with the chapter minutes. I did not have much to critique him on in terms of his performance, and his outlook on the chapter was certainly a refreshing one to hear.
My final one-on-one for Monday came with Vice President Matt Hard. This was definitely a good time to have a meeting with him since the craziness of Island Party had just died down. Like Brandon, Matt brings a lot of positive energy to the officer corps, which is beneficial to the unity of the group.
Monday night I was fortunate enough to attend the UNT chapter meeting. Chapter meeting is one of my favorite aspects of this chapter that I get to see. These men never fail to show a great understanding of unity at chapter meeting. Every chapter, they have a time for “encour-a-bro,” which is a chapter wide affirmation period for one of the members. At that meeting, Secretary Brandon Bolin was being encouraged. It was a great time of sharing that really built Brandon up and made me proud of the men.
Another unique tradition that the men of this chapter have is the pledge line-up, where the actives are able to ask the pledges questions about their knowledge of the pledgeship curriculum as well as their time in BYX. I was even allowed to ask the men questions, and they were able to pass even my toughest attempts to befuddle them. These men have truly built a special kind of brotherhood here, and it is apparent every time I attend a chapter meeting.
Due to the schedule of the officers, we had to have our officer meeting following chapter. You may be asking yourself, “Hmm, if I had my national advisor in town, what could be the most awesome place that we could possibly meet with him as an officer corps?” Well the answer is McDonald’s, and that is exactly where we conducted our officer meeting. Over the years as both an officer and an advisor, I have met men for officer meetings in many types of places, but this was my first time doing so at a fast food restaurant. For this, I salute you UNT officer corps.
During my visit I was able to meet up with Pledge Trainer Enrique Callejas and Pledge
Captain Drew Reed and hear about the chapter’s vision for expanding recruitment and pledgeship. The chapter has been making remarkable social strides in the past few semesters, which has resulted in more recognition of the fraternity from the campus. The goal is to be able to effectively capitalize on this growing recognition and turn that new advantage into more pledges.
I also had the privilege of meeting with Treasurer Ryan Gibson. One thing to know about Ryan is that he is known by the rest of the chapter by the nickname “Peaches.” If you ask me whether I completely understand the nickname or whether I have wanted to dive deeper into the back story, the answer to both would be no. What I do know is that Peaches has been a great treasurer and a joy to work with this year. As for next year, we discussed ways to reform how the chapter collects dues in order to get everything accounted for in a timely manner.
During my visit I was also able to sit down with Chaplain Richard Goff. Richard has a heart for the men of his chapter, and it is apparent when you sit down and speak with him. We had a great conversation about the unity of the officer corps and the vision of the chapter for the fall. Richard is good at being direct with the men when he needs to be, and I know it will serve the chapter well.
I left my meetings pleased with the direction and the vision of the men in this officer corps. They are young but have really emerged from their period of growing pains well. The next step is challenging both the men and the officers alike to reach for that higher level of fraternity on campus. The Theta Chapter has the potential to be the biggest fraternity on campus in terms of both numbers and campus presence.