Colleges Coddle Students with Ball Pits to Provide ‘Emotional Safety’

Institutions of higher education around the country are providing students with ball pits, typically used by young children, to help relieve the stress of college.

As a part of an ongoing trend, colleges and universities around the country are setting up ball pits as a means of providing their students with “emotional safety.” According to a report from The College Fix, the ball pits are used “as icebreakers, to break down racial barriers, facilitate lessons on wellness, and as part of freshmen orientation.”

“The ball pits were perfect for allowing students to feel comfortable,” explained Kate Ayotte, a wellness programs administrator at Central Connecticut State University. “That was the greatest benefit for helping them have conversations with other students they didn’t know and talk about mental health. They were so relaxed and just hanging out in the pools,” Ayotte added.

But Central Connecticut State University isn’t the only institution participating in the ball pit trend. Schools such as St. Mary’s College, Northwestern State University, the University of Delaware, and Ole Miss have joined in on the craze, all offering their students a chance to unwind in a ball pit.

“Students pick up a ball with a prompt and talk to their partner in the ball pit about their response. The balls start conversations between students and help them get to know one another on a slightly deeper level,” Cynthia Cutshall, an administrator from St. Mary’s College, explained.

Administrators suggest that the practice is encouraging students to meet others face-to-face rather than on social media. “We write some questions on the bigger balls that we have that facilitate conversations,” said Bradley Ruffin, an administrator at Ole Miss. He explained that they encourage students to have conversations by writing questions on the balls in the pit such as “what’s your favorite spot on campus?” and “what’s the best place to eat on campus?”

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