Student Government proposes umbrella checkout system

Rachel Lew

Unpredictable Texas showers can leave students without umbrellas stranded on campus, but Student Government wants to give students the opportunity to check out umbrellas and stay dry.

SG is currently working on the implementation of Assembly Resolution 17, which would create a system of umbrella checkouts on campus for students on rainy days.

According to the School of Architecture’s Center for Sustainable Development, annual rainfall in Austin ranges from 32 to 36 inches on average, and rain patterns can often be unpredictable.

John Falke, co-author of AR 17 and supply chain management senior, said his idea for an umbrella checkout was inspired by the cell phone charger checkouts currently available around campus. Cell phone chargers have a 24-hour checkout period, and require a UT ID to borrow.

“Kallen [Dimitroff] and I were actually stuck on campus in the [Student Activity Center] without an umbrella while it was raining and I saw someone check out a phone charger from the hospitality desk,” Falke said. “I thought that umbrella checkout would be a great idea for students and would be a Student Government initiative where we could actually have some follow-through.”

Kallen Dimitroff, co-author of AR 17 and government senior, said she hopes the umbrella checkout system will be similar to cell phone charger checkouts, with a few modifications.

“Unlike cell phone chargers, we want students to have 48 hours to return the umbrellas. The thought is that the lost, stolen or damaged policy that applies to chargers will apply to the umbrellas, which are notably cheaper than chargers,” Dimitroff said.

Falke said he hopes to have umbrella checkout locations in the Flawn Academic Center (FAC) and Student Activity Center (SAC) in place by late March or early April.

Dimitroff said Student Government plans to run a pilot program using funding from SG’s special projects fund with the potential of seeking long term funding if the program is successful. Falke said there will be no rental fee to check out umbrellas.

Dimitroff said Student Government hopes to recycle the umbrellas that fans leave at Darrell K. Royal Stadium on rainy game days.

“The official cost incurred by Student Government will be dependent upon the quality and quantity of those umbrellas,” Dimitroff said. “However, a lot of this is still pretty preliminary.”

University Unions assistant director Nick Parras said there are key logistics that need to be discussed with the SAC team and the authors of the SG resolution.

“If an opportunity is there to serve students by supporting the implementation of a Student Government resolution and we can realistically support the service, then we are happy to help,” Parras said.

Parras said the main obstacles in implementing an umbrella checkout system are the loss and damage of checked out umbrellas, uncertainty regarding umbrella supply and demand, having a better understanding of umbrella supply replenishing protocol and plans for long-term funding.

Electrical engineering senior Corey Cormier said he thinks an umbrella checkout would be a good idea for UT students, but does not know if the system will be practical.

“It doesn’t rain often in Austin, so I don’t normally bring my umbrella to class,” Cormier said. “Having an umbrella checkout for the days that it does rain would be convenient, but UT would need to provide a lot of umbrellas and many people may not bother to bring them back.”