Inside UT’s Student Activities Center

By Thalia Carrillo

The Student Activities Center during the summer months means a more relaxed scene for campus lunch-goers, people studying and those who just need a nap. Lines in the food court longer than two or three people do not exist. Rows of chairs and couches are empty on every floor. There are no meetings being held in the meeting rooms and signs with alternative summer hours are hung on most doors. The few people in the building are either employees or wearing an obvious orientation nametag.

The building in East Mall was built in 2009 as an edition to the Student Union. According to its website, this building was created to support a diverse array of student interests and to provide additional and alternative options for activity, event, meeting, dining, and outdoor gathering space.

Anne Dittilo, a junior physics and astronomy major, was one of only five students lounging on the second floor, far less than the hundreds in the fall or spring. Dittilo, who works in the afternoons, said she spends most mornings in the SAC to “have some quiet time to herself.”

“I come here twice as much in the summer,” Dittilo said. “It’s really nice here. I like the soft, comfy chairs. They’re usually never available.”

Christian Hecker, an electrical engineering major, works at the snack stand in the SAC and has seen a change in the atmosphere, firsthand.

“In the summer, less staff is needed, so I go from working 35 hours to 15,” Hecker said. “But I don’t mind it, because I have more free time.”

During his 15 hours a week, he interacts with less people. “It’s much slower, the only people I see are the incoming freshmen at orientation,” he said.

For Liz Elson, the Assistant Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center, the less populated SAC has little effect on her center. “I still see students every day,” Elson said. “The center is doing great.”

She credits this to the center’s new location in the SAC, as opposed to its old location in the Student Services building.

“We get a lot more foot traffic here, even in the summer,” Elson said.

“It’s a dream really,” Elson said about having the center in the SAC. “It’s both an honor and a privilege.”

And in the summer, the SAC is a quiet sanctuary.