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The Blue & Gray Press | August 23, 2019

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Return of post and chain fence at Ball Circle raises questions among students

Return of post and chain fence at Ball Circle raises questions among students


Students this semester may have noticed something different about Ball Circle.  A post-and- chain fence, which now wraps the outer edges of the lawn, was reinstalled by Facilities Services as a preventative measure to protect the lawn from damage the circle underwent last semester.

According to John Wiltenmuth, associate vice president for Facilities Services, he and Facilities Services made the decision to build the fence due to damage on Ball Circle’s lawn. This damage was attributed to vehicles driving through the area a few months before.

“The decision to reinstall the post and chain was based upon the need to reduce the significant vehicular damage that was occurring to Ball Circle during the fall semester,” Wiltenmuth said.

Wiltenmuth also stated that a post-and-chain fence had surrounded Ball Circle before in previous semesters. It was only removed during the fall 2015 semester while construction was taking place in the area.

“Posts and chain are not new to our campus and were used around Ball Circle prior to the construction activities of the University Center,” Wiltenmuth said.

The post-and-chain fence begins near Madison Hall and stretches across the circle, stopping near the entrance to Custis Hall. The fence appears to be incomplete at the entrance of Virginia Hall, where there are posts, but not chains.

As the fence continues to be assembled around Ball Circle, students gave their thoughts on the fence returning. Charbel Marche, a sophomore who is currently studying computer science, believed the chain will be inconvenient for students who often use Ball Circle to get to the University Center or their residence halls.  “I think it’s ridiculous that there isn’t an opening where students can walk through,” Marche said.

Drew Mesa, a sophomore who is currently studying history, had a similar sentiment about the post-and-chain fence.

“It’s an inconvenience for people to have to walk around Ball Circle instead of cutting through,” Mesa said.

These are not the only students upset about this decision. Others on social network sites such as Yik Yak also expressed their displeasure at the fence, because they seem to believe that the fence represents a barrier, and they do not feel like they should have to cross over the fence to reach residence halls or the University Center.

However, there are also students who do not think the fence will be an issue for them. Noah Zoroya, also a sophomore studying history, does not believe the fence will interfere with his schedule. “It doesn’t really make a difference to me. I don’t mind walking on the path instead of the grass,” Zoroya said.

As students and staff acclimate to the post-and-chain fence, the protective measure around Ball Circle may act to prevent damage to the lawn in the future, allowing students to use either the brick pathway to walk to the University Center or reach the lawn where chains have not been assembled, particularly in front of Virginia Hall.


  1. Harold Williams

    Having a daughter who is a Freshman at JMU, I understand how busy the schedules of students can be, with little time for school work as well as little time for relationships or fun. I do understand that every hour of the day is accounted for without enough hours in the day.
    Having said that, I cannot understand the students being upset that the ball and chain was re-installed around Ball Circle. I have been working at UMW for over 24 years and the ball and chain has always been here. That is until the work began on the new UC. Now that the building is up and running, the ball and chain came back. If hundreds of students and a few vehicles cross the grass on a daily basis, Ball circle will look like a barnyard. I honestly don’t believe that is what anyone wants.
    As for the inconvenience and time wasted having to walk “all the way around” Ball circle, I don’t see it. If you approach the circle and choose to walk up the walk to Madison and connect with the walkway to the UC and continue to walk past Ball Hall to the entrance of the UC it is 94 steps longer than squeezing by the bench, up the incline, across the walk, over the chain across the circle, back over the chain to the steps of the UC. I repeat 94 steps. That is averaging 2.5 ft. per step which makes the distance difference of 235 ft. Really…is 235 ft. or 94 steps that inconvenient? If you walk a leisurely 2 mph that means an extra 3 minutes, give or take a few seconds.
    Now if you are at Lee Hall and want to walk across the circle instead of walking around past Virginia to the UC, it is 73 ft. shorter. That comes out to a grand total of 29 steps longer. Can you really call that an inconvenience?
    The third option of course is if you are coming from the direction of Woodard or Willard Halls. This is obvious, if you decided to cross Ball Circle you are walking further than you need to for no reason.
    So if you find the post and chain a barrier you have to step over, walk around and you do not have to step over anything. If you find it an inconvenience to walk around, sorry that you feel an additional 93 steps at most will ruin your day. I am old and close to retirement. My doctors want for me to walk 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy. I now know that I can do that by walking around Ball circle past Ball Hall to the UC and and back 3 times a day for seven days a week.