I did my Ph.D. at Ball State U in Muncie, IN, and I’m proud of my time there (whether the school is proud is another matter entirely, of course.) The first time I went to Muncie was in 1997, on a visit to BSU. Following the computer’s directions took me through some of the grungier sections of town, of which there were plenty. The city had been hit hard by the decline of manufacturing, and even the famous glass company (for whose founders my alma mater was named) had largely pulled out of the area by the time I got there.
However, we moved there anyway in 1998, and I look back on that half decade (four years for the Ph.D. and one as contract faculty at BSU) with great affection. Still, one didn’t have to get too far out of the campus area to see a city with serious problems. In particular, the South side of town was pretty grim, but since the school and the shopping district were on the North side, we wouldn’t have been there often in any case. Indeed, we hadn’t been there too long before we discovered a bypass that let us avoid that part of the city even when we were visiting family in Kentucky.
I’ve hoped Muncie would one day rebound, even though I haven’t been there since we moved to Mondoville. I liked the feel of the campus area and the convenience of things like movie theaters and shopping. But when I check the news for the region, I see little indication that it’s going to get better any time soon.
Of course, there’s bad, and then there’s really bad. Muncie may have moved into the latter category. Why do I say this? Well, let me answer your question with another question:
How bad are things when a city of 70,000 people can’t keep a topless bar in business? Seems like a lack of support in more ways than one.