Rat expansion offers more opportunities for events

The opening of the new Student Activities Center brings a new venue for the Rathskeller to call home.

Opened in 1972 to promote the interest and welfare of the university, the Rat has been a campus staple ever since. Over the years, the Rat has been through many changes in order to best serve the student body, university employees and alumni.

“All [the alumni] say that one of the first things they want to do is stop by and check out the Rat,” said the Rat’s manager Anne Vitha.  “Many people spend a lot of time hanging out with friends and making memories at the Rat. It’s an integral part of the Miami experience.”

The student-run Rathskeller Advisory Board that is responsible for planning events hopes to use the new space to take the Rat back to its roots.

“The Rat was the ‘it’ place to be,” said Julie Earl, chair of the RAB. “We want to turn it back into the nighttime hangout spot it once was.”

With the expanded floor space, the Rat is capable of hosting more events than the temporary Rat in the University Center could. And that means the Rat has something for everyone. The RAB plans to have watch parties for away football games as well as bring comedians for late night events. The Rat recently hosted a Poetry Slam for UM poets to share their writing. Official student organizations are also free to plan their own events at the Rat.

The RAB has also started new weekly events and giveaways to cater to students, such as shooting pool on Tournament Tuesday, listening to country music on Western Wednesday, and seeing Miami in its football glory days on Throwback Thursday.

In addition to an impressive sound system and two-story design, the Rat has expanded the patio area to allow room for more glider tables and an outdoor bar.  You can also find pool tables on the second floor, a popcorn machine and a stage area reminiscent of the Rat from years past.

For patrons of legal age, the Rat is now stocked with 19 beers on tap and a larger variety of bottled beer, including Shock Top, Goose Island and Dos Equis. Many of the selections were chosen from beers that were rotated in service at the old Rat.

“People order drinks and are impressed with our beer selection,” said Shane Hinton, a Rat employee. “As their bartender, I like that I can give them what they want.”

Hours of operation were also extended so that indoor seating remains open until midnight on weekdays, till 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and till 7 p.m. on Sundays.

With all the changes, however, the Rat remains the center of campus bar students know and love.

“Even though it’s the new Rat, it’s still the Rat,” said Earl. “We’re excited to brand it in a new way.”