Campus News

2017 Bethel College senior gift: campus-wide prayer walk

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Seniors of Bethel, your votes are in, and the senior gift has been chosen. Bethel’s upperclass student council, which helps decide and pay for the senior gift, unveiled the choices for senior gift a few weeks ago: a prayer walk around campus and a statue of our mascot, WilHelm, to be placed outside the Wiekamp athletic center. Last week, the walk and the statue went head-to-head in a vote to choose the winner. The winner was the prayer walk. The walk will have 7 stations around campus: a sign and map explaining the walk near the gazebo outside the academic center, a Bible outside of Bridges Hall, a Bethel College symbol between Shupe and the Huffman administration building, a praying hands sculpture between the wellness center and art building, a fire icon by the chapel, a flag by Tuckey Hall and finally, a cross next to the Taylor memorial chapel. The 7 stations symbolize Bethel’s 70 years of existence. The class of 2017 is partnering with the class of 1967 to fund the gift. Many students seemed less than thrilled with the two choices for senior gift this year, and that doesn’t exclude the people behind the gift choosing process. “I wasn't thrilled, cause as an upperclassmen, we're a big part of it,” said Justin Brown, upper-class council vice president. “The biggest thing was, I know there's a lot of push from President Chenoweth for the prayer (walk), I know that's what he definitely wanted. Ultimately, it's our choice, but at the same time, we want to push his suggestions and considerations.” The “push” mentioned before was also mentioned by upper-class council president Diana Diaz-Diurych earlier this semester in an interview with the Beacon.  However, at that time she didn’t have a specific gift to push. She said that President Chenoweth was encouraging the council to install a legacy gift as opposed to a maintenance gift. “A legacy gift being something that, in 50 years you can come back and show your kids and your grandkids, and that kind of thing,” said Diaz-Diurych, “rather than a maintenance (gift) like fixing something up.” Johan Godwaldt, upperclass council faculty advisor, went a bit further into what makes a senior gift a legacy gift. “It might not benefit today’s students,” he said, “but when you come back to campus 50 years from now, for your 50-year reunion with your grandchildren, what do you want left behind from your class? That’s a legacy.” Brown went on to mention that his own friend group seemed less than thrilled with the given choices. “I think there was some backlash pertaining to, when it was first announced… in chapel," said Brown. "People weren't terribly happy about it, which we knew.  You can't please everybody.  At the end of the day, we just have to make a decision." However, those were the only two choices given to students. Diaz-Diruych said that StuCo narrowed it down to those two choices from a list of around 20 ideas. “We narrowed those down based on if they were just doing maintenance to other things or if location wasn’t going to be possible because of future buildings that might be in that area,” said Diaz-Diruych at a forum held on Nov. 15 to discuss the ideas. “We wanted this one to really be a legacy gift, because it is the 70th year.  It was really important to incorporate the 70th year aspect of it, and then also just budget, as far as if we thought we could get to whatever amount we’re asking.” The other idea, the statue, was actually adjusted a bit at the forum. Instead of being of WilHelm the pilot, the statue was discussed possibly being more realistic, similar to the Bethel Pilots logo itself. The idea of making the statue something else entirely was also discussed, but the issue of what to base the statue on kept it as a pilot. The idea of another helm was brought up, but Godwaldt said that Bethel has many helms across campus already. In past years, in order to determine what exactly the gift would be, StuCo has used various ways to poll seniors. One year, a forum was held to get ideas from seniors directly. This is how the idea for last year’s prayer garden came to be. Brown mentioned that he wanted to do that this year, but it was ultimately decided to forego the idea forum because the forum would generate too many ideas to sort through. StuCo did host a forum, as mentioned earlier; however it wasn’t an idea forum. Instead, the forum was meant to present the two choices for senior gift and get seniors’ feelings on the choices. When asked what his predictions for the vote were, Brown gave the advantage to the mascot statue, simply because he felt it had a better response from the seniors he talked to. Ultimately, the votes were tallied and the prayer walk won the most votes from seniors.  Donations are currently being collected. Students can continue to donate by contacting StuCo or by donating their housing deposit. Groundbreaking is scheduled to take place on graduation day in the spring.
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