Last spring, the Rathskeller was located next to Lake Osceola and the new 119,368-square-foot Student Activities Center (SAC) was just a drawing on a map.
Now, almost a year later, the last of the concrete will be poured the first week of May, and construction crews will then begin the electrical and plumbing work.
On Tuesday, Westbrook and Pat Whitely, the vice president for student affairs, held a town hall meeting to update students on the progress of the new buildings and address any concerns. During the meeting, Whitely and Westbrook outlined the layout the new three-story complex.
“We want to have the pulse and heart beat of student life to be in the new center,” Whitely said.
The Rat, which will be located near the Frost School of Music, will have two floors, with pool tables on the second story, reminiscent of the old Rat.
The rest of the first floor will include a social study space for students, ATMs, and three retail shops. According to Westbrook, the first-floor social study space may become a 24-hour study area for students.
“We have to make provisions for cleaning and security, but it’s a real possibility,” he said.
On the second floor, there will be a suite for undergraduate student organizations, student media, the Graduate Student Association, some administrative offices and a hallway dedicated to banner-painting.
All the student offices that are currently located in the University Center will be moved to the SAC. There will then be two to three rooms remaining in the SAC that other student organizations can apply for. There will also be approximately 10 to 20 cubicles and about 20 lockers available for organizations to use.
“We’re definitely looking forward to the new Student Activities Center, with the benefits of the new building, new furniture and new technology,” said Hong-Uyen Hua, the incoming president of Committee on International Student Organizations.
The third floor of the SAC will feature a ballroom capable of seating more than 1,000 people. There will also be a reception area overlooking the lake and a kitchen for caterers. Students will also have a new pantry and meeting rooms.
Over the summer, the UC will also get a face lift. The wall separating the stairwell from the Lower Lounge will be removed and the upstairs meeting rooms will be equipped with new projectors. The UC will still be open to students all summer long.
“I think the renovations are great,” said senior Allison Norris, who is an incoming student at UM’s School of Law. “We’re becoming such a better school and attracting better students, and paying more tuition for it, so it’s long overdue.”
Additionally, the UC Patio will receive a new amphitheater, which will be located at the far end of the patio. It will replace the current stage.
Construction will begin over the summer and will continue into the fall semester. The patio will be partially closed but students and faculty will still have access to the Rat gliders and some of the patio next to that. Westbrook expects the patio to fully reopen in the spring.
Also, in the fall, students will have a statue of the “U” located near the Rock. The statue will be made of stainless steel and will showcase the school’s orange and green logo.
“We never really had anything central to campus that people could take pictures with or touch on the way to a final,” said Brandon Mitchell, former SG president. “It’ll improve the spirit on campus from the minute it is there.”