Cable TV is becoming a thing of the past at Ball State.  And it is bringing about some static.

In the new Schmidt/Wilson Residence Hall, students will no longer be able to watch their favorite television shows without the internet. 

That is because in the new residence hall, home to the Theater, Dance and Design Living Learning Community, there are no longer cable hookups in student rooms. 

According to Chris Wilkey, assistant director of marketing, communications and technology for the Office of Housing and Residence Life, university officials “felt that outfitting the building with coaxial cables throughout was going to be a wasted cost.” 

Wilkey said that last year’s “Quality of Life Survey” results showed 85 percent of Ball State students do not use cable on campus. 

“All of the money that was saved from that got re-put into different facilities like the downstairs with the new dance studio or the design studio, that kind of stuff,” Wilkey said.  

Both the results to the “Quality of Life Survey” and the money saved by not installing cable access ports in student rooms were not readily available. 

Some students, such as Eamon Hagerty, a sophomore telecommunications and theater major, say they aren't exactly excited about the change.

“You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone,” Hagerty said. “I didn't realize it was something that I wanted until they cut the cord.”

He is part of BSU Tonight, a Ball State television entertainment show. He says although most students watch his program on YouTube, it airs on Cardinal Vision, a Ball State cable channel. This change eliminates a medium to showcase student work. 

“As a TCOM major, somebody who produces television, it’s a little strange to me that they cut out cable television,” Hagerty said. 

However, Hagerty does think that the decision was probably wise for the university. 

“The industry is moving towards streaming anyway and I know that at least with this building they are trying to be the first wave of the future I guess,” Hagerty said. “So it makes sense and you know I’m excited to see where they take it in the future, just right now in the transition period it’s a bit clunky.”

So how will the more than 500 students living in the new Johnson West Complex watch their favorite television shows and live programs?

According to Wilkey, students can hook up their smart TVs to streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, via the campus-wide WiFi access or ethernet ports in each room. However, ethernet cords are not provided for students, as cable cords are in other residence halls, and must be purchased separately. 

Students in Schmidt/Wilson, however, do pay the same rate for room and board as residents in other air-conditioned halls, like the Botsford/Swinford, DeHority, Studebaker East and Studebaker West halls. For example, any student in one of these rooms will pay $10,284 for a room with a standard 14 meal per week plan, according to the Housing and Residence Life website. 

The university has techs on staff who can set up student devices to the internet so they can watch their programs. However, students are not allowed to use their own internet modems, Google Chromecast or wireless printers, as these devices use their own internal routers and “pull internet away” from other student rooms.

For students who want to watch live programming, such as sporting events, award shows, newscasts and student content, Wilkey says students still have options to watch those programs. 

Wilkey says that the four lounges/kitchenettes, as well as the fitness room, still have cable for their public TVs. He also says that students can watch cable in other residence halls with friends, or use other options. 

“If you have access to your family’s cable plan or satellite plan you can use those credentials and stream it through any of your smart tv devices, or you can do something like SlingTV and purchase it and watch it that way,” Wilkey said. 

The $32-million renovation of the Johnson West Complex is just the first residence hall to cut the cord. Later residence halls, including those to replace the LaFollete Complex, which is being demolished, will no longer have cable hookups in student rooms.