UT organizations rally to rename Student Activity Center


Students sit in the lobby of the Student Activity Center on Thursday. There is a petition to rename the SAC after Margaret C. Berry.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

While many students have affectionately dubbed the new UT Student Activity Center “the NUTSAC,” one group is fighting to rename it for a UT alumna.

Members of Student Government, spirit organizations, fraternities, sororities and other organizations around campus are coming together with the goal of renaming the SAC the Margaret C. Berry Student Activities Center, said business honors program junior Chase Covington. Berry has been involved with the University for 65 years, helping establish and advise organizations such as Orange Jackets and Texas Spirits and earning an honorary membership in Tejas — a spirit group on campus.

“We’re trying to show that there’s a lot of current student support for this,” Covington said. “We’re really just a group of students who feel strongly that we should honor Dr. Berry this way. A lot of student organizations are behind this.”

On Thursday, the group had received about 3,000 signatures from students and alumni, collected since they began tabling in the West Mall on Monday, Covington said. They will table today and are likely to continue in the following weeks, he said.

While they hope to get as many signatures as possible, there is no specific number that they are aiming for, he added.

The group has to go through the Board of Regents to rename the SAC in honor of a UT alumna or faculty member, according to information provided by Marsha Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Dean of Students.

Berry was on campus for major events in UT’s history such as the Charles J. Whitman sniper shooting in the 1960s and the construction of the current UT tower, said political communications junior Alex Jones. Jones is a member of the student senate, Model UN and is a RA with the Residence Hall Council.

The proposed renaming of the SAC is the first effort that is non-resident hall-related that the Residence Hall Council has endorsed since relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, Jones said.

“That kind of puts it into perspective of what they’re willing to sponsor and how big of an event this is,” Jones said. “She’s a distinguished alumna of the highest honor with this University. She ranks among some of the best of the best.”

Berry will be doing a public interview at the Alumni Center today at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the history of UT and to tell personal anecdotes about the University, said Austin attorney Kathy Tally, a UT alumna and member of the Texas Exes.

Tally was president of several student organizations during her time and she became close with Berry, who was a mentor for many student leaders, she said.

The honorific renaming of the building was supposed to be a surprise, but it would have been hard for Berry not to have caught wind of it, Tally said.

“Dr. Berry never married or had children of her own, but there were thousands of UT students who considered her like a second mom,” she said.