Features

Helm run not what it used to be

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Everyone knows about the infamous helm run. Or at least all the freshman guys know. Many insist on keeping tradition alive the first snow every year. “Why do you perpetuate that rumor? It doesn’t happen!” insisted legendary Oakwood/Slater Hall Resident Director Bill Bemis, partly kidding, partly serious. “Whether I ever participated in any of the helm runs in my day is something I don’t seem to recall nor am I ever likely to,” said Senior Vice President Dennis Engbrecht, as he told about the helm run back in his day. Engbrecht, who was a Bethel student in the late 60s, 20 years after the college had been established tells of the helm run in his day. As long as there has been a Helm to run to, it seems there has been some sort of helm run at Bethel. Especially after Oakwood, currently the freshmen guy’s dorm was built so close to it in the mid 60s. The helm itself used to be bigger than it is now and was surrounded by a three-foot deep pond about 20 feet in circumference. There were several different kinds of helm runs back in the early days. When someone got engaged, Oakwood would swarm into their room for the “ritual run.” They would then hustle the lucky man into the pond around the helm. During the “call-to-manhood” run, an aspiring man would dash after hours from Oakwood, usually in the dead of winter, wearing only his gym shorts or boxers, toward the helm. When he arrived at a tree next to the helm, he would relieve himself on it while all the rest of his admiring dorm mates watched from Oakwood. Finally, there was the “prank run.” On this one, sneaky students would steal the underwear or boxers of fellow Oakwoodians and run them out late at night to the flagpole next to the helm. However, sometime since the “good old days,” the helm run has evolved. “(The helm run) happened back in the day when the helm wasn’t in the middle of a public street,” Bemis explained. “It was in the middle of the woods, where no one could see what was going on.” The helm is now well-lit and easily visible from the girls’ dorms directly across from Oakwood. “I think The Lodge has a lot to do with its decline,” commented Carol Bemis. “With all the windows looking down on the helm, it’s a very visible spot on campus.” “You do realize that performing such a felony now-a-days is somewhere between class C misdemeanor and a class D felony,” Bill Bemis is not hesitant to remind aspiring helm runners. “So don’t call me when the MPD takes you down to jail. I warned you.”
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