The South Mall lawn and the Union outdoor patio are popular locations for UT students to enjoy warm weather and sunshine, and Student Government passed a resolution last Tuesday to provide another option — hammocks along the planned Speedway Mall.
The Speedway Mall project will bring large grassy areas and about 300-400 new oak trees to the area between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Dean Keeton Street, providing an ideal opportunity for hammocks to be placed permanently, according to the resolution.
Taral Patel, government senior and co-author of the resolution, said hammocks provide an alternative option to rest on campus.
“There are benches, which we do have, but sometimes they aren’t used that much,” Patel said. “This is a new and creative way to relax.”
Gregory Gymnasium offers hammocks that can be rented out from RecSports, but the hammocks are not often used, and many campuses around the country are banning use of personal hammocks on campus because of concerns for tree and student safety, according to the resolution.
Rebecca Sostek, resolution co-author and rhetoric and writing and psychology junior, said she has met with the University’s landscaping company and the Division of Recreational Sports, and feedback for the idea has been positive. Sostek said the hammocks will be placed on stands rather than tied to trees.
“After talking to the landscaping company, I realized that it’s going to be for the best to have hammocks on stands rather than hanging on trees, mostly because hanging hammocks in trees can be detrimental to the trees’ health,” Sostek said. “These trees on the Speedway project will be baby trees, so that would require a lot of time for them to grow.”
Sostek said she received a $1,250 grant from SG’s special projects fund, which will allow for a trial period, when hammocks will be placed around the Blanton Museum of Art, Jester Dormitory and Gregory Gymnasium.
“This trial period will be a good way to see if these hammocks will hold up over the semester and to see if they’ve been used and positively received,” Sostek said. “After the trial period, if the hammocks are received well and things go as planned, I’ll start reaching out to other entities such as Student Government, the [Texas] Hammocking Club and UT Parents’ Association for funding and suggestions.”
Nursing freshman Allen Tan said he thinks permanent hammocks would provide a space for students to rest during the day, especially if they live far from campus.
“It would be good for students who live off campus and don’t want to have to go back home just for a 30-minute nap,” Tan said.
Tan said he thinks maintenance may be an issue in providing permanent hammocks.
“[The hammocks] would have to be constantly cleaned and checked for damage,” Tan said. “Especially when it rains, which it hardly ever does, the hammocks would get wet and nasty.”
UT Facilities Services spokesperson Laurie Lentz said the decision to install hammocks on the Speedway Mall would be a campus decision and would take place after construction of the mall is completed.