Student Activity Center Opening Marks End Of 58-Year Battle For Second Union (Slideshow)

With reporting by Sophie Duvall

The ceremonial opening and ribbon-cutting today of the new Student Activity Center on the East Mall represents the end of a battle that started 58 years ago to open a second student union on the east side of campus.

In 1953, 20 years after the Texas Union opened on the western edge of campus as the first student building, its board asked students to raise fees.

The proposal failed, largely because law and engineering students wanted a building closer to their side of campus.

The new Student Activities CenterThen in the ’70s, the Union board and the Board of Regents agreed on a location for a second union — next to the Mustang statues at San Jacinto and 24th — but students rejected the $17 fee increase that would have funded it.

Today, almost six decades later, the fight has finally ended. In 2006 students overwhelmingly passed a referendum approving a $65 fee per student per semester for the construction of the $48 million Student Activity Center next to Gregory Gym and stretching to the East Mall.

“It turned out that more students voted in the referendum on the building than voted for SG president that year,” says Dan Paschal, ’05-’06 executive director of Student Government.

Unlike previous structures built on students’ dime but without their input, the SAC involved undergraduates heavily in the design, from planning the layout to picking paint colors. Students wanted the SAC to reach LEED Gold certification, rather than the Silver minimum now required for new UT buildings.

The new structure will be run under the new University Unions, and the original Texas Union will remain open.

Watch for the March issue of The Alcalde for more about the new structure and its history. Don’t get The Alcalde? Join the Texas Exes.

Top photo courtesy of the University Unions. Slideshow photos by Iris Camille Claudio/The Alcalde or courtesy of the University Unions.


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