Students upset with wrecking ball removal

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ALLENDALE, Michigan (WOOD) – Grand Valley State University has moved a familiar Allendale campus sculpture after images of several people riding on it surfaced.

The piece, “Untitled” by Dale Eldred, is a large ball hanging on a chain and had been in the same spot on campus near the Seymour and Esther Padnos Hall of Science since 1995.

GVSU management said it moved the sculpture because of safety reasons. Officials said the problem really started to escalate following the release of the music video for “Wrecking Ball” by pop star Miley Cyrus.

In the music video, Cyrus sings while riding nude on a wrecking ball. The video racked more than 100 million views in the six days after its release, making it the fastest video every to do so.

Then came the GVSU Wrecking Ball Twitter account that encouraged students to take pictures and videos of themselves swinging on the sculpture like Cyrus.

Many did.

GVSU officials said they saw several images of people riding the sculpture — sometimes several at once. Among the images was a video that recently appeared on the website Vine of a naked man riding the sculpture while singing the song. That video was taken down Tuesday afternoon.

GVSU said moving the sculpture was not in direct response to that specific video. Discussion of moving the sculpture had been ongoing for weeks, officials said. A facilities manager who spoke with 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday said he only saw the video Monday.

“We became concerned just from a safety standpoint,” Tim Thimmesch of GVSU Facility Services said. “And also structural integrity. So we have elected to go ahead and remove the ball for now.”

The sculpture is currently in an off-campus university storage facility. School officials will evaluate their structural integrity and then make a decision.

The decision to move the sculpture did not sit well with students.

“I think it’s horrible. I think the wrecking ball is a tradition. I know that they don’t want people riding around on it naked. It’s kind of not very appropriate. I think they should definitely keep it up,” one student said.

On Tuesday evening, between 100 and 200 people gathered outside Padnos Hall at the former home of the sculpture to sing “Wrecking Ball.”

The problem of students riding the sculpture isn’t anything new, the university said, but became more common after the Miley Cyrus music video.

The university may look for a new location for the work, and Thimmesch said officials would like to see it back on campus at some point.

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