There are new fire pits and chairs outside of Atherton. Photo by Meghan Stratton.
MADELEINE HALL | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
Students searching for ways to keep warm as the winter months approach can look no further. Well, look no further than the corner of Starbucks and Atherton Union where there are now four fire pits and several bright blue lawn chairs. Residing under a series of string lights, this area is quickly starting to become a student favorite.
This latest installation on campus was put in place by University Operations after Student Affairs brought the idea to the table. John Lacheta, presidential fellow of university operations, said students expressed a desire for more outdoor spaces, which is also what led to the picnic tables outside of Starbucks.
“Ultimately, the drive to provide a fun, yet safe environment for students to connect is what drove the decision to bring fire pits to campus,” Lacheta said.
These vibrant blue chairs are full almost every night, making it another coveted space for students to study or take study breaks. Briana Park, a sophomore marketing and music industry studies double major, has utilized the space with her friends.
“The fire in it of itself pulls you physically closer to it, so that just pulls you closer to everybody else,” Park said.
This setup has created a welcoming atmosphere in which students can spend time eating, studying or just relaxing with friends. Singkai Baker, a sophomore marketing and psychology double major, originally heard about the new area through a Butler University Instagram story a couple of weeks ago.
“I think it really creates an atmosphere of conversation for sure because we’re all sitting around one thing,” Baker said.
The fire pits have become a centerpiece for igniting new safe social interactions. Lacheta said the fire pits are from a company that specializes in such fixtures and the other materials were locally sourced from stores in Indianapolis.
Luke Allen, a sophomore sports media major, has also hung out around the firepits with his friends, and noted the lights tie the space together.
“Especially now that it’s getting darker earlier, if it was just out here and we had a little bit of light, we wouldn’t really see each other but the lights definitely add such a nice aspect to it,” Allen said.
Unfortunately, roasting s’mores is not an option here. Cooking food is not allowed, but bringing food to eat around the fire definitely is. The firepit area is open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and wearing a mask along with staying socially distanced is mandatory. Do not leave the fire pits unattended, and if any issues arise, call BUPD at (317)-940-9999, especially if gas can be smelled.
Seeing how busy this area tends to be each night, it’s not a surprise that additional hangout spots are desired. Good news — more social spaces similar to this are on the way soon and many students are looking forward to it.
“The space was designed to be a relaxed social setting as I mentioned with pergolas, hammock areas, picnic tables, fire pits and even an outdoor concert-movie area, however, this was paused due to COVID-19 in the spring,” Lacheta said. “This area will be among other projects that will be picked up again as Butler overcomes this national pandemic.”
The fire pits are here to stay as more permanent installations for the spring semester are being investigated. Stay tuned for more social spaces coming next semester.