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Ohio State undergraduates given a space to chalk down goals, aspirations

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

Splashing the background of the bus stop at College Road and 12th Avenue outside the Ohio Union, four large chalkboards sit affixed to a construction fence. Also attached to the fence are small, chalk-filled baskets. “Before I Graduate” is written above the chalkboards and the lines below begin with the phrase “I Want To.”

Ohio Staters, Inc. was inspired by artist Candy Chang’s “Before I Die” exhibition, in which Chang created a chalkboard in her New Orleans neighborhood as a public forum for people to chalk in personal goals to achieve before they die. Ohio Staters, which according to the organization’s website formed in 1933 and currently has 51 members, brought the spirit of Chang’s art closer to home, but with an Ohio State spin. The student group aims to move forward university traditions and monitor the welfare of students.

“We initially thought this would be a great thing to bring to OSU, so we worked on it throughout Spring Quarter,” said Michael Ratti, vice president of Ohio Staters and co-chair of the “Before I Graduate” project.

The “Before I Graduate” exhibition appeared two weeks before the end of Spring Quarter and has generated great foot traffic, Ratti said.
“Right now, we’re looking to try and keep the board up throughout Fall Semester, and throughout that time we’re also going to be looking for a way to immortalize the idea of the project,” he said.

Ohio Staters created a Facebook page for just that reason.

“My favorite is a post of somebody saying, ‘I want to meet the love of my life,’ then right under that it says, ‘I want to meet my wife,’ and right under it says, ‘I want to find my husband,'” Ratti said.

Ohio Staters is also toying with the idea of moving the boards to other locations on campus, Ratti said. “We’re looking for different places, maybe outside, maybe indoors. But we want to try and keep the spirit of ‘Before I Graduate’ alive.”

Haley Searls, a first-year in political science, said the exhibit seems to be a neat idea as long as it is taken seriously.

“If you’re putting it up there for the rest of the college to see, you know then that it’s serious,” Searls said. “But there will always be those people that are going to be stupid about it and write stupid things up there.”

Searls said she does, however, realize the importance of having goals in writing.

“In high school, my English teacher made us write … 10 things we wanted to do in our lifetime, and it is very important to me because the very first thing on my list is ‘go to Ohio State University,’ and now I am,” Searls said.

Ratti has high hopes for the “Before I Graduate” project.

“We hope it inspires some freshmen to go out and do some bigger things as well as help upperclassmen really reminisce,” he said.

Mike McKeegan, a sixth-year in hospitality management, has a different perspective.

“I like how it sits in front of a construction area that is two years old now. How about, ‘When I graduate, this block will be completed,'” McKeegan said.

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