"The Ashtray" between the Architecture and Whitinger Business buildings will be redesigned by Fall 2017. The Student Government Association has been working on the area since its first town hall meeting. Kara Berg // DN
Students join forces to fix ‘the Ashtray’
The seating area between the Architecture and Whitinger Business buildings, which many call “the Ashtray,” is in sad shape, some students say.
The tiled pavement is cracked and wobbly in spots, making it impossible for some students in wheelchairs to access it.
The area is just “ugly,” said junior elementary education major Lilia Arroyo. Arroyo started a petition to redesign the area and bring it to its full potential.
“It’s really important to me that we are an accessible campus and that people who have disabilities are able to go anywhere on campus,” Arroyo said. “I know it could also be beautiful, even if we just redid the stones and fixed the flowers.”
Luckily for Arroyo, the Student Government Association already had the same idea. A student brought it up at SGA’s first town hall meeting, and they have been working on it since then, said Trevor Holland, chair of the Community and Environmental Affairs committee.
SGA hadn’t been vocal about their work on the legislation because they were still trying to get everything finalized, Holland said. They’d been working on it for a few weeks, but because students didn’t know, they started the petition.
“We want to make sure students know that we do take their recommendations, and we do think about them, and we do put them into action,” Holland said. “[The petition made it] look like we were ignoring the students, but we weren’t. It’s just something that takes time.”
Holland reached out to Jim Lowe, associate vice president for facilities planning and management, to see what could be done.
But Lowe said the university was already working on fixing up the Ashtray. They have plans to restore the pavers within the next 10 months, weather permitting, and will start to fix the seating and landscaping next summer.
Lowe said they plan to complete the restoration by Fall 2017.
“We certainly appreciate the observation and input received from students and the SGA,” Lowe said in an email. “It reflects the ‘sense of pride’ everyone has for Ball State University.”
Almost 250 people signed the petition as of Nov. 3, only four days after the petition opened.
Those who signed the petition commented that it was “wasted space,” that has too much potential to be left as is.
“I’m signing because I think that could be a beautiful area of campus, and if people visiting see this, it doesn’t leave a very good impression,” said Evan Bell, one of the commenters on the petition. “We need it to be vibrant and welcoming; not falling apart and dull.”
Although Arroyo said they only meant well when creating the petition, Holland said petitions are often seen as bad things, and that it portrayed SGA in a bad light.
But Arroyo said they just wanted to show that students cared.
“There was no evidence of students caring, so why not create it?” Arroyo said. “Maybe they didn’t need the petition, maybe they did. But I hope even a little thing we did could make a difference. It’s exciting to see that something will happen.”