When stories are passed down from generation to generation within a city, they are known as urban legends. These stories, which often tell a grandiose tale with questionable credibility, can grow and be embellished over the years from one generation to the next. Bethel College, with its small student body living in such a close proximity, has collected a fair number of its own “urban legends,” stories passed down from graduating class to graduating class. Dr. Shawn Holtgren, vice president for student development sat down with The Beacon to shed some light on five Bethel myths. 1.) Oakwood residents once tunneled from the basement of their residence hall to come and go as they pleased. True. “I actually discovered the hole,” Holtgren said. Holtgren explained that the hole was dug about 11 years ago while David Slater was the resident director of Oakwood. He was also working part time at South Bend Tribune as a sports writer, and one night he was working late on a news story. Holtgren said that he received a call from Slater that night, because the power had gone out in Oakwood. Slater asked Holtgren to check on the residents. While checking on the students, Holtgren found something amiss in the storage room of the basement. The Oakwood residents had taken out several cinder blocks and tunneled all of the way from their dorm to off-campus by pushing out debris. Holtgren scolded the students on what they were doing, telling them it was highly dangerous. They received community service, but their stunt earned the nickname of “Logan’s heroes,” a takeoff on the popular television sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes.” 2.) The Dining Commons changes their menu on Pilot Preview Days. False. Holtgren quickly debunked this myth saying, “I can deny that.” 3.) Students who skip a chapel on Spiritual Emphasis Week, World Christian Action Conference week or skip Service Day receive two chapel skips instead of one. False. This is another widespread belief that Holtgren denied. He added that they try not to be “too punitive,” on missing chapels. 4.) A student once lived out in the woods for a semester to avoid paying for room and board. Mostly true. “A student did have a little shanty,” Holtgren said, but noted that he only stayed in the crudely constructed shack for two months. Holtgren pointed out that the book The Shack was gaining a lot of popularity at the time and that may have had an influence on the student’s decision to sleep in his homemade lean-to. “The same student slept on the roof of every building [on campus],” Holtgren said. 5.) If your roommate dies, you automatically receive A's in all of your classes that semester. Mostly true. “Historically, that has been true of most campuses,”Holtgren said. “We’ve never had to cross that bridge.” Holtgren said that although they’ve never had that particular instance occur, he believed significant accommodations would be given to the student who was grieving. Holtgren did mention that a comedy film that premiered in the late 90s featured this theme. The movie Dead Man on Campus, which featured Mark-Paul Gosselaar of Saved by the Bell fame, followed the story of a student who is failing out of college and concocts a scheme to knock off his roommate to get the grades he needs.
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