Fourth Stop: Residence Halls

Today’s stop on our tour is going to be focused on residence halls here at The University of Texas at Austin!

When it comes to on campus housing here at The University of Texas at Austin students have the choice to select their residence hall preferences from three different living communities. Residence halls at UT are divided into three different communities: Whitis Area, Waller Creek and Jester. Each community has a different feel, and they all offer different chances for involvement, events, and leadership. So as far as choosing the best resident hall for you, it’s all up to who you are, what you like, and where you want to be on campus.

Whitis Area Community

Tucked in the Northwest corner of campus, the Whitis Area is made up of several unique residence halls, from Littlefield (the oldest hall on campus) to the contemporary design of Duren (one of the newest). Whitis Area is also home to the Honors halls in the Quad (Andrews, Blanton, and Carothers) or the all-female residence hall Kinsolving.


Female students study in Littlefield Residence Hall study room. Littlefield is one of two all female residence halls at The University of Texas at Austin. (Photo: The University of Texas at Austin)

Waller Creek Community

For those who would like to live in the shadow of the Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Waller Creek community residence halls are no more than a stroll to the stadium. Scatted along Waller Creek, these residence halls range from smaller (Brackenridge, Roberts and Prather) to the larger and newer San Jacinto. Creekside, located further north of campus is the university’s only all-male residence hall.


San Jacinto residence hall at The University of Texas at Austin with visibility of the Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in the distance. (Photo: The University of Texas at Austin)

Jester Center Community

Finally the Jester Center is one of the largest residence halls in the nation and the largest at The University of Texas at Austin. Two towers make up Jester on the South side of campus, close to the business school, the PCL, and the Blanton Museum. Jester is also home to the largest dining hall on campus, as well as lecture classrooms and study rooms.


A photo collage of Jester Center west created by the Department of Housing and Food Services showing a typical residence hall dorm room in Jester. (Photo: Department of Housing and Food Services)

Finally I will let you know what everyone needs to know about living on campus: eating!

Each year along with the cost of living on campus residents receive $1,500 in what the university calls Dine in Dollars. For the fall and spring semester students are able to use these Dine in Dollars to eat at any of the university dining halls. While not each residence hall has a dining hall, the nearest one isn’t very far away! There are a variety of options when it comes to eating on campus. Students can either eat at an a la carte style dining hall where you get whatever amount of food you want and weight and pay. Students also have the option to eat at one of our buffet style dining halls, where the student can swipe their ID and eat as much as they want! In addition to the $1,500 in Dine in Dollars, students also receive $300 in Bevo Bucks, which can be used at more commercial places both on and off campus. Bevo Bucks are hugely popular among students who live on campus because when they get tired on eating at those dining halls, they are able to go to places off campus like Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, or Austin favorite: Kirby Lane and pay using their Bevo Bucks!

My best advice to any freshman coming to The University of Texas or any university for that matter is to live on campus their freshman year! It makes it easier to meet people and get involved on campus when everything is right outside your door. Statistics also show that students who live on campus have higher GPAs than those who don’t, so if that’s not a reason to live on campus I don’t know what is!

Third Stop: Etter-Harbin Alumni Center and the Darryl K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium

Today’s stop our on tour is going to be all about our amazing alumni network and the spirit and tradition that goes along with Texas football!

To start this off you should know that the Texas Exes Alumni Association, which was stabled in 1885 by 34 new graduates, has over 450,000 living alumni worldwide! The Texas Exes Alumni Association has been described as the most powerful, influential, and well-connected alumni networks in the nation. While to many prospective student that doesn’t much when looking into selecting a university to attend, but for many students on campus during their four years at UT the alumni network may be the largest resource for both internships and future employment. Something that should not go unnoticed about our alumni is that the Texas Exes give over $1.5 million in scholarships to about 600 students each year including the Forty Acres Scholarship: a full ride, merit based scholarship for freshman.


The Texas Exes Alumni Association logo which features The University of Texas trademark color burnt orange. (Photo: Alcalde, Official Publication of the Texas Exes)

The Texas Exes Alumni Association is housed in the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center which was established in 1885 and since has had $7.17 million in renovations with the help of the Texas Exes themselves. The Etter-Harbin Alumni Center not only serves as the center for all things alumni, such as the tailgates for alumni on game days, but also has popular study and gathering spots for students on campus as well!


The Etter-Harbin Alumni Center at The University of Texas at Austin which houses the Texas Exes Association. (Photo: Austin American Statesman)

Finally, some of our most famous alumni and former longhorns include American actress Farah Fawcett, American actor and recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, American actress Renee Zellweger and former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush.

This leads us to what most people would say is their favorite thing about attending The University of Texas at Austin, football! Texas football kicks off every fall at the Darryl K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. The capacity of our stadium is about 100,119, making it the largest football venue in the state of Texas and the fourth largest college football stadium in the NCAA.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas

The Darryl K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium during the 2013 – 2014 football season. (Photo: CBS Sports)

As far as tickets go for sporting events students have to option to buy what is called the Longhorn All Sports Package or the LASP for short. For $80 students are given access to any home athletic event at a first come first serve basis. This means entrance in to all sports including volleyball, swimming, baseball, basketball and football. As far as I know students who have the LASP don’t have trouble getting into any football games unless it’s a very popular game, but for those who are looking for a reserved seat at every game students who have the LASP are eligible to buy season football tickets for an additional $70. This means that for a total of $150 a student is guaranteed tickets to all sporting events at a first come first serve basis and reserved seating at every home football game! Although priority for seating is given to seniors students are able to sign up for football tickets in a group and you’ll be able to sit with this group for the entire football season!


Second Stop: The East Mall

Today’s stop on the tour will feature one of my favorite areas on the UT campus: the East Mall


Students on campus at The University of Texas at Austin walking and studying in the East Mall in between classes during the fall semester. (Photo: Alcalde, Official Publication of the Texas Exes)

The first thing you notice when you walk through the East Mall is the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, which is only one of two statues of MLK on a college campus.  Completed in 1999 this particular statue of MLK was put in place due to an initiate from Student Government, students wanted more diversity represented on campus, which is just one example of how influential Student Government is at UT Austin.

The East Mall is also home to some academic colleges as well! The Jackson School of Geosciences became its own college off of Natural Sciences due to alumnus and late Dallas oilman John A. Jackson, who gave $40 million in 2002 to establish the school and the rest of his estate in his will when he passed in 2003 totaling $272 million making it one of the largest benefactors ever to a single public university. On the off-campus Pickle Research Institute site, Geosciences has the largest fossil collection in Texas, 7th largest in the United States!


Photo of the logo for the Jackson School of Geosciences which features both of The University of Texas at Austin’s school colors; burnt orange and white. (Photo: Jackson School of Geosciences)

Another academic college in the East Mall is the College of Liberal Arts. The CLA building is one of the newest on campus, opening in the spring of 2013. The $87 million building was all paid for by the College of Liberal Arts (not from UT system or legislative funding) making it the first building on campus to do so. In addition to the College of Liberal Arts the CLA building has an entire floor for the college’s Naval, Army and Air Force ROTC units.

The University of Texas College of Liberal Arts is the only college to offer degrees in Latin American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and a bachelors in African and African American Studies as well. Additionally the College of Liberal Arts is one of four to offer Mexican American Studies, has the top Arabic program in the nation with the addition of the Arabic Flagship program and is one of three to offer a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Finally, my favorite building on the entire UT campus is the Student Activity Center or the SAC. The SAC opened in the Spring of 2011 and is another example of the influence of Student Government. The building of the SAC was passed through student government in 2006 and has been paid for by students through their fees. The SAC was also built with sustainability in mind. Entering into a voluntary certificate program, the SAC strives to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating.

The SAC was built because students needed more space on campus so the SAC also includes rooms that the students needed space for, including: an auditorium that holds 495, food court, ballroom, legislative assembly room, black box theater, dance studios, study areas, Gender and Sexuality Center, Student Government office, and the Multicultural Engagement Center.


View inside the Student Activity Center at The University of Texas at Austin in between classes after the start of the spring semester. (Photo: The University of Texas at Austin)

First Stop: The Main Mall

First things first, welcome to The University of Texas at Austin!

Today’s blog post subject is one of the most iconic spots on the Forty Acres: the Main Mall.

The University of Texas Main Mall during a passing period in April 2009 using High Dynamic Range technique
(Photo: Randy Drevland)

The Tower is 307-feet tall and houses an observation deck at the top that offers a panoramic view of the UT Campus and the gorgeous city of Austin. A lot of people don’t know that when the Tower was being built the University required approval from the Texas Capitol and was instructed not to build the Tower taller than the Capitol building. What The University did not tell them was that they were going to build the Tower on a 7-foot hill, so, as it stands, the Tower actually appears to be 3-feet taller than the Texas Capitol.

The Tower houses the Kniker Carillon, a musical instrument that chimes every 15 minutes. The Carillon has 56 bells and is the largest carillon in Texas. It is played every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11:50 am and is a treat to listen to as you’re walking across campus. The Guild of Student Carillonneurs, one of many UT student organizations, performs mini-concerts weekly on the Kniker Carillon as well as giving a larger concert at least once a semester. Students can even request songs by sending an email to address

The Main Building in the above picture was completed in 1973 and currently houses administrative offices like that of University President Bill Powers, Vice President, Registrar, Admissions, etc. In addition the Main Building houses the Life Sciences Library which is just 1 of 17 libraries on campus!

My personal favorite part of the Main Mall is that at The University of Texas, your four years both begins and ends on the Main Mall. Each August on the night before classes begin, new students from all colleges and schools are invited to gather at the Tower to attend Gone to Texas, the official program to welcome new students to The University of Texas at Austin. The fun-filled program includes live performances, an official welcome by President Powers, presentation of the Gone to Texas video contest finalists and an announcement of the winners, special guest speakers and presentations, and a finale featuring the Longhorn Band. Personally this is my favorite tradition at UT! At the end of Gone to Texas the Tower will light up burnt orange and the lights in the windows will create the number of your graduating year–which for me was ’16. The next time you see that number lit up on the Tower is four years later when students gather for the University-wide commencement ceremony at the Tower, which is why we say that your four years at UT begins and ends on the Main Mall!

Gone to Texas 2012

The University of Texas Tower after Gone to Texas in 2012 lit up burnt orange with the year 2016 to signify the start of the year for students who will graduate in 2016. (Photo: The University of Texas at Austin)

University of Texas students, alumni, and faculty gather on the main mall for the 26th annual Hex Rally in Austin, Texas

Texas Sprit Squad during Gone to Texas in the fall of 2012 to welcome incoming freshman to The University of Texas at Austin. (Photo: The University of Texas at Austin)

Finally, another one of my favorite things about the Main Mall is that you can always see the Texas Capitol in the distance! In fact, Texas law prohibits blocking the view from the Tower to the State Capitol downtown. So whether you have an internship or just feel like being a tourist, the Capitol is right in your backyard!


A view from the Main Mall of students walking on The University of Texas at Austin campus with the Texas Capitol building featured. (Photo: The University of Texas at Austin)