Bethel College recently unveiled a new campus program called “The 4-1 Project.” According to the official announcement, the program is “an effort to make Bethel a more connected campus by adding four major developments on campus.”
The name 4-1 Project is derived from the format of the program: four projects, one campus.
But back to the Trump approach. One of these four projects has a lot of students doing a double take, and a few are having some déjà vu. Bethel College is installing a security wall completely surrounding campus.
“We value the environment we have here,” said Walter Thomas, head of the wall project, “and we really want to work to keep Bethel a safe place. We felt that the best way to do that was to build a wall.”
Design documents for the wall show that it is planned to be about 20 feet high and made of concrete. The cost is estimated at around $530,000. There will be gates at all the main entrances, but the smaller entrances, such as those leading from McKinley Avenue and near Campus Safety, will be closed off. This decision, according to Thomas, was made to “better secure the campus environment.”
As for what “securing the campus environment” means, Thomas said he wasn’t able to give too many details just yet.
“It’s still in the planning stages,” he said, “but it’s definitely going to happen. We hope to keep tabs on people entering campus so that students can feel safer and so that administration can better serve and protect its students.”
To some, the wall even sounds utilitarian, and many students are afraid that Bethel is taking a cue from Donald Trump’s controversial plan to build a wall along the U.S. southern border if elected president.
Rachel Meyers, a freshman worship arts major, had a few words on the subject. “I just feel like Bethel is known as a place where people are welcome, and this projects the exact opposite. It really turns off potential students.”
Junior criminal justice major Sam Worne said, “If I had heard that Bethel was building a wall when I was applying, that would have taken it off my list for sure. What school needs a wall?”
Senior political science major Kathy Devon made the political connection: “It sounds like Donald Trump’s plan, and we all know how that’s turned out for him. Does Bethel really want to align itself with such a controversial issue?”
Not all students feel this way, though. Freshman biology major Bailey Hartman said that a wall would make her feel safer.
“You just never know who can sneak on to campus whenever they want,” said Hartman. “A wall would make me feel so much safer on campus if I knew there were only two ways on and off campus and that they were guarded.”
Junior engineering major Justin Long feels that a wall actually enhances Bethel’s image.
“It really shows that the administration is aware of the alarming state of college campuses and that they’re making an effort to protect their students," he said. "Yeah, it’s a bit extreme, but I honestly think that it’s going to make Bethel look more in control and on top of things.”
Thomas also had a few words to say in response to critics.
“Rest assured that this is not going to affect Bethel’s focus on ‘Spirited Connections,’” he said. “If anything, this is meant to make us a more connected campus, with only those who have a real vested interest in making this college better will be here. We can work together to make Bethel great again.”
And indeed we can. One thing’s certainly clear. This surprising announcement and the rest of the “4-1 Project” almost seems too good to be true. Especially considering that it was all announced on April 1…
We thank the Bethel administration for all their hard work, and remember, have a very happy APRIL FOOL’S DAY!