University Unions opens new outdoor patio at SAC

Zoë Howard

The newly expanded Student Activity Center patio opened this semester for students after five years of planning.

The patio is divided into four sections, three of which are new wheelchair-accessible decks. There are now 230 seats and a hammock area.

“Our main goal in building the patio was to expand the living and sitting space of the SAC,” said Mulu Ferede, executive director of University Unions. “The SAC is one of the most occupied buildings at the University on a daily basis.”

While the patio provides added study space, it is also a common area for students to relax during breaks between classes, Ferede said.

Ferede said the planning committee was mindful in choosing features that would accommodate student needs.

“We have expanded the Wi-Fi connection to reach all areas of the patio,” Ferede said. “We also installed 30 charging docks for students’ use.”

The expansion of the patio also included a fountain that does more than provide a peaceful atmosphere, Ferede said.

“The water feature repurposes rainwater, which is key to the University’s sustainability efforts,” Ferede said.

Nick Eastwood, international relations and global studies freshman, spent time at the patio during a meeting last week. He said there should be more student spaces like the patio around campus.

“The outdoor patio provides an excellent way to get some fresh air after being confined indoors all day,” Eastwood said. “Natural ambiance is really nice, and I think we need more of it here at UT.”

Psychology freshman Trevor Liu found the patio to be an effective study location.

“Sometimes the SAC is overcrowded and there’s very limited seating,” Liu said. “The patio gives students a lot more room to sit, and the water feature makes it a very peaceful study spot.”

To further accommodate students, University Unions worked with University Health Services to install a sunscreen dispenser at the patio.

“The sunscreen dispensers seem like a really mindful decision,” Liu said. “Even though it’s a little thing, installing the dispensers shows how the patio was built with students’ comfort in mind.”

Ferede said the patio is open to students during normal SAC building hours and has multiple security cameras and external lights to ensure the safety of students during the later hours of the night.

“This patio is for students,” Ferede said. “It’s one thing we can do to make UT feel more like home.”