UMass fraternity shoots hoops for worthy cause

By Hannah Nelson

It was not quite 4 p.m. yet, but music was already traveling from the Southwest horseshoe up past the dining commons. Members of the largest fraternity on campus, Sigma Phi Epsilon, could be seen tying down banners and sipping Rockstar energy drinks as students in maroon were shooting hoops in the basketball court.

The fraternity was holding a 3-on-3 basketball tournament fundraiser for the YouthAids organization. UMass is only one of many campuses with a SigEp chapter that will be holding similar events this fall nationwide to raise money for the YouthAids organization.

“This is the third year we’ve done this,” said Matt O’Connor, the chapter president of Sigma Phi Epsilon. “We’re trying to do better than last year.”

Registration for teams started at 12 p.m., and by the time the event started in the evening, the brothers were still taking sign-ups. At starting time they had about 20 teams of five players.

But the event doesn’t end after the games are over.

“At 9 p.m. We The Living, a band from the Midwest, will be playing a concert at our house to promote their Northeast tour as well as continue our YouthAids campaign,” Mike Harris said.

The four-member band has been making stops at colleges along the way and is singing off their LP with their first album due out later this fall.

“The band actually contacted us and are playing for free,” Randy Adam said, having organized the after-tournament concert at the fraternity’s house on Olympia Drive.

As if the band’s involvement wasn’t enough to get excited about, the basketball tournament had a big-name sponsor behind it. Energy drink company Rockstar was also up for a chance to help the brothers support the cause, not to mention keeping participants and onlookers alike going strong through the evening’s festivities.

As part of Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national effort to promote awareness for YouthAids, other chapters will be holding similar events. Some will hold sporting events like the basketball tournament and others like the University of California Berkley’s pumpkin sales in past years.

YouthAids, a sub-organization of Population Services International, “uses media, pop culture, music, theatre and sport to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and reach 600 million young people,” according to their Web site.

The YouthAids organization has been working globally since the ’70s to promote HIV/AIDS education and awareness. As of today, it is actively providing potentially life saving information in over 60 nations.

Sigma Phi Epsilon currently has the largest undergraduate fraternity membership in the country, and is a community large enough to bring in serious money.

SigEp was asking for a small donation from those who come out to watch or $5 for an event T-shirt. The fraternity expects to raise $1,500 to $2,000. Those participating in the event received a free T-shirt and the satisfaction that they had some fun for a worthy cause.