The GVSU Wrecking Ball: In Memoriam
The GVSU Wrecking Ball was first conceived in 1995 by Dale Eldred outside Padnos Hall, the place it called home. Originally called “Untitled,” the silver ball became affectionately referred to among its
peers as “the GVSU Wrecking Ball” or “the Ball” or “that hangy thing over by Padnos.” For the first 18
years of its life, the ball enjoyed spending its time swinging back and forth in its little sandbox.
“He always worked so hard—always aspired for perpetual motion,” mourned a senior physics student,
“but his life-long struggle with friction just kept holding him back.” As a result, close friends say, he
was confined to standing still most of the time, lest there be a slight wind or pack of unrestrained
But it wasn’t friction that brought the ball’s life to its premature end. For years, the ball was ridden by
various demographics, though primarily two: freshmen with ill-conceived notions of what constitutes
“rebellious thrill” and nostalgic seniors reminiscing about their days as freshmen with ill-conceived
notions of what constitutes “rebellious thrill.” One day, this changed when, unbeknownst to itself, the
ball became a national sex icon after its doppelganger made an appearance in Miley Cyrus’ music
video, “Wrecking Ball,” the pop music explosion which won “most views gained in 24 hours” on
YouTube with a stunning 10.9 million viewers.
Post-Cyrus, the ball’s rider demographic changed vastly—and suddenly. It all started when a couple of
frat boys decided to sneak onto campus in the wee hours of the night and create a parallel to Cyrus’
video where they, too, spread their cheeks on the giant swinging ball and sang along to Cyrus’ angsty
anthem. After the first Vine—a short video clip program—went viral, this trend spread rapidly, leaving
every student and his/her grandmother with the compulsion to recreate “Wrecking Ball” at home.
The guy in the office right behind the ball statue said he was most surprised when, after staying late
in his office one night to grade essays, he ran into one of his students naked and belting, “I came in
like a wrecking ball!” while swinging on the sculpture. “I tried not to let this impact our professional
relationship,” the instructor said, “but we made eye contact way longer than we should have. It was
kind of awkward.”
Sources and close friends disagree about whether or not the ball felt honored or sexually objectified
by its newfound popularity. They did, however, all agree that they wished they would have asked
before it became too late. GVSU facilities personnel felt pity for the ball, now both viral and violated,
silver surface dotted with the cloudy prints of cheeks. But mostly, they felt pity for their university,
which had now become inextricably associated with Miley Cyrus in the public eye.
In response, the ever-revered and ever-mistreated ball was taken down on September 17 after a
“structural inspection” and laid to rest somewhere in the bowels of GVSU.
As with all great icons, the ball’s fame peaked posthumously when its removal garnered state, national
and international coverage from WoodTV 8, BuzzFeed, Business Insider, Reddit and The Daily Mail,
among others. The death of the ball also sparked mild insurrection among the student body, who
protested “American-style,” complaining on the internet behind the safety of their computers. “Free
the Ball,” a Facebook page complete with a cover photo of the French Revolution, received 1,405 likes
in the seven hours following its inception. These likes only go to remind us how loved and supported
the ball was by its campus.
The ball was survived by the fountain, the Clock Tower, and all the ambiguous white sculptures
around campus. Administrators threaten that these, too, will be removed if students begin dancing on
*Disclaimer: Any students and professors quoted in this article are fictionalized.