Chase Covington

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.

If all faculty submit their book lists to the University Co-op before the Oct. 31 priority deadline, the bookstore could save $250,000 — translating into serious savings for students.

When the store receives book requisition lists by that date, it helps store management determine how many books to buy back from students and gives the Co-op time to shop around for prices on used books from wholesalers, said Chad Stith, director of course materials. About 60 percent of faculty usually submit their requisitions on time. When the store gets book requests late, it doesn’t buy as many books from students and ends up having to buy a greater number of more expensive new books from publishers, so students lose money in two ways.

“[Prompt book list submissions] can easily mean a quarter of a million dollars per semester in savings, because there are more used books at the Co-op and better payout at buyback,” he said.

Business junior Chase Covington, a Student Government liberal arts representative, is spearheading a letter-writing campaign to encourage faculty to submit their lists on time.

At its Oct. 12 meeting, SG passed a resolution authored by Covington to support efforts to increase timely requisition requests. He has met with student organizations to ask their members to urge professors to submit their lists on time during class, at office hours or by e-mail.

Stith said when the inquiry comes from SG and other students, professors know prompt submission of book lists doesn’t only help the Co-op. After a similar SG initiative in fall 2009, 102 more faculty members submitted their requisitions on time than in the previous fall. Covington said he hopes this year will be more successful and far-reaching.

“There is still a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “We can institutionalize this so it happens every semester and it will be easier to implement.”

Covington and other SG members will distribute letters and e-mails to department heads next week and continue to ask students to speak with their professors directly leading up to the Oct. 31 deadline.

Philosophy professor Ian Proops, who teaches Introduction to Philosophy, along with upper-division and honors courses, said he is trying to get his textbook list in before the priority deadline, but the requisition comes at a time when midterm exams, papers and other administrative tasks are piling up. A personal conversation with a student would be more encouraging than an e-mail or letter, which might look like spam, he said.

“These kinds of things tend to come up with a lot of other requests at the same time,” Proops said. “It would be worth making it more broadly known that students save money if we do that on time, and it would be helpful if students spoke to their professors in person.”