Music students fundraise to replace 40-year-old Butler School of Music recital hall furniture

Mikayla Mondragon

Green couches line the halls of the Butler School of Music’s recital hall. Alumni can remember the days they were brand new in the 1980s. Today, students say they are torn, deformed and roach-infested.

That is why students started the Green Couch Project, a $45,000 fundraiser to replace these couches, the only lounge furniture on the first and second floors of the Music Building and Recital Hall. 

“There was one time when I was doing my homework trying to finish an assignment, and I dropped my pencil,” grauduate music student Lauren Casey-Clyde said in a fundraiser video. “I pulled out the couches to find it and out walked two cockroaches.”


Mary Ellen Poole, director of the Butler School of Music, said the school has not received funding for the couches because there are more urgent maintenance needs at the University. Members of the Butler School of Music Greek organizations, Sigma Alpha Iota, Mu Phi Epsilon and Phi Mu Alpha, created the HornRaiser to replace the couches. About $5,000 has been raised so far, according to the HornRaiser webpage.

Valerie Mercado, president of the UT chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, said the $45,000 will not cover the entire cost. Mercado said to replace all 90 couches, the total estimated cost is $145,000. 

“The reason we’re only fundraising $45,000 is because we do have some money within the Butler School of Music budget to help us,” English senior Mercado said. 

After raising the money, Mercado said that the students will talk to various deans of the University and ask them to match their funds, but nothing is guaranteed.

Poole said the school has submitted a request for funding from the provost’s office and hopes that the students’ fundraising energy will be persuasive.

Psychology sophomore Nathaniel Reta said he and his fellow Longhorn Band trombone players lay around on the couches before football games. He said it upsets him that the couches are in the condition they are.

“It’s kind of unfair that everything is a bit of a mess,” Reta said. 

Mercado says that the green couches are an integral part of student life in Butler School of Music. 

“Whether socializing with my friends or having a meeting … we spend so much time on these green couches on the regular,” Mercado said. “Why do we have to be OK with the condition of these green couches?”