Several weeks ago, TU opened a new outdoor space for students. TU Outdoors at Thomas Plaza was opened as a place for students to gather in the evenings and have a relaxing time talking, playing yard games and enjoying sitting by fire pits.
Open seven nights per week from 7 p.m. to midnight, March 1 through April 16, 2021, TU Outdoors should become a great place to hang out and reflect on the day. Since this space is only for TU students, a TU student ID is needed as well as a mask, which students are required to wear while in this space.
Scott Gove, Associate Director of Residence Life at the University of Tulsa, is the main coordinator of this project. Behind the decision to create this space was a desire to help students to heal from the difficulties of this past year. He said that the University “wanted to create a space where students could safely engage with one another while minimizing any COVID-19 spread. Our students have weathered a lot this year socially and our hope is this space can begin to build the relationships they missed. The healing process from COVID-19 will take time for us all and we are happy to be starting here.”
Some of the activities that are available at TU Outdoors include cozy seating next to fire pits, hammocks, bistro lighting, a covered pavilion and many outdoor games available to checkout from staff.
The planning process for TU Outdoors began in December of last year. Because this is an outdoor space where masks are required to be worn, the process of getting TU Outdoors approved was relatively straightforward. The goal was to have a bistro like atmosphere in an outdoor location somewhere on campus that was currently not being used for something else. Thomas Plaza fit this description.
“As an alum I always thought this space was underutilized,” said Gove. “We went to Athletics and they were more than happy to let the student body use it.” Several months later, this became the home of TU Outdoors.
There is a lot to look forward to at TU Outdoors this semester. The first week there was a build your own flower bouquet that went very well. This was, however, just the beginning of the events to take place this semester. Upcoming events include a Whataburger night, a Rib Crib night, a s’mores night as well as other fun activities.
The goal was to create an atmosphere that is welcoming and inviting. Gove’s favorite part of this space is seeing students enjoying it. “Overall, what I love most about the space is seeing students just chilling, talking and relaxing with the almost Disneyland-esque main street vibe.”
As of now, TU Outdoors is just planned to be here this spring, however, Gove hopes that it will come back in future spring semesters. “Our hope is that it will become a new student tradition the later part of each spring semester, such as right after the usual March spring break through finals.”