Benakovich is a freshman business administration and finance major, and is also the Student Action Team representative on DeHority’s hall council (Residents of DeHority). Benakovich said she first had the idea when Student Government Association representative Jake Peterson said they were looking for ideas to start off the year.
"I like to eat healthy, and I know a lot of my friends like to too, so I was just thinking maybe we could get more fruits and vegetables," Benakovich said.
Benakovich said she took the idea to her roommate Selena Webb, a freshman telecommunications and design technology major, and the two of them wrote the petition together that night.
“We have discussed a lot how I really like fresh fruits, and I don't really have the option,” Webb said. “I always ate fruit and vegetables before I came here, and I felt like when I got here it was limited.”
According to Benakovich, the record for the most signatures on a petition at Ball State was formerly 328 signatures. Benakovich and Webb now have nearly 700.
Benakovich says that she knows Ball State dining offers fruits and vegetables, but she would like to see more.
"Maybe strawberries, blueberries...maybe have like a fruit bar like they have salad bars. If someone just wanted to get like a cucumber or a pepper, because I know a lot of people eat those for like snacks. But like the fresh ones, so they aren't pre-packaged," Benakovich said.
Webb also says the petition focuses on more fresh fruit.
"It would be nice to have fresh fruit that I know hasn't had syrup on it and things like that," Webb said.
Emma Rund, a freshman theater studies major who signed the petition, says that Ball State dining should offer more fruits and vegetables “that the general public will eat.”
“I signed [the petition] because the fruits available on campus are fruits I would not usually eat. I want strawberries and blueberries, not starfruit. Why would you sell starfruit, but not sell basic berries?” Rund said.
In order to write a bill for Student Government Association, the petition needed 50 signatures. Although the petition has far surpassed this number, Benakovich says that it needs at least 1,000 to be noticed by the university’s administration. She says her own personal goal for the petition is 2,000 signatures.
"[Nearly 700] signatures is a lot of signatures and it's awesome, but for a campus of 20,000 it would really be looked at if we could break a couple thousand," Benakovich said.
Peterson, a sophomore business administration major, serves as the on-campus chairman for student government, and has represented DeHority for two years. He says that he told Benakovich and Webb that if they got 50 signatures, he would write a bill to be presented at student Senate.
"I've never seen this much passion behind a bill on the student side," Peterson said. "We've tapped into something that is pretty predominant in the student community...and that warrants attention."
The bill was stopped at SGA’s Agenda Committee, but knowing that legislation is hard to implement by the end of the semester if it not passed by spring break, Peterson got the bill on the floor. Although it did not pass, Peterson says he scheduled a meeting with Interim Director of Dining Karen Adkins to voice his ideas.
'We're not revolting against dining, we're not saying dining is terrible. We love dining and think it has a lot of great options, but there is a community on campus that would like to see more healthy options," Peterson said.
Peterson said there are many steps involved in the process of implementing policies on Ball State’s campus, including getting through Student Senate and University Senate.
Peterson said that more than likely, the bill will go to the agenda committee of the University Senate, and they can choose what happens next.
“Nine times out of ten, they send it back or just veto it. A lot of times, if it’s a great bill, they’ll take it and they’ll give it to a committee that is skilled in that area,” Peterson said.
Peterson says he is excited about going back to good government.
"In this day in age, government isn't looked upon nicely, but here is a good example of students coming to government for help," Peterson said.
Peterson says that he remains optimistic, and that [Peterson, Benakovich, and Webb] are not stopping yet.
"There is a demand on campus, and we've proven it with the petition, that students want this. And it's not just a couple students or a crazy senator with nothing to do, it's 678 students that really feel passionate enough that they will sign their name to something. It's huge," Peterson said.
The link to the petition has been shared primarily through social media, mainly on Facebook and in GroupMe. Benakovich says she also advertised on the whiteboard in the Honors House classroom.
"The more people share on Facebook the more people see it, it is an issue on campus,” Benakovich said. “The more people that see it, it gives them a voice, and that's really special.”