Campus News

Bethel Adapts and Expands Traditions

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MISHAWAKA—Every year during the days leading up to finals week, the Bethel community enjoys a number of traditions to help them destress and unwind. This year, most of those traditions have continued, though COVID-19 has given them a new look. 

Student Engagement Coordinator Annelotte Letens said that the Student Life office is being proactive to stay up to date on current rules and regulations. 

“We have to keep CDC rules and World Health Organization rules in consideration,” Letens said. “Our emergency management team puts together guidelines for gatherings on campus, and that keeps all of the local and national regulations in mind.” 

Letens added that Bethel is striving to ensure the university maintains a good public image during the pandemic. 

“Beyond just what the rules are, we look at what [public relations] would look like,” Letens said. “I heard a quote somewhere once, ‘If you don’t want it to be on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow, you shouldn’t do it.’ That’s kind of, for myself, how I’ve been thinking.” 

However, Letens said the root motivator of all the actions performed by Bethel’s administration is the care of the students. 

“My primary concern is for the safety and health of the students,” Letens said. “Their physical health and their mental health.” 

Letens is proud of the events Bethel has been able to provide for students this semester. Some of the events include the outdoor concert, the pop-up living rooms, the final chapel, the midnight breakfast and the finals study nights. 

This year, Emily Sherwood, director of alumni relations, is extending the midnight breakfast tradition to alumni who may wish to participate. 

“The alumni board . . . came up with the idea of a reunion in a box,” Sherwood said. “We thought, ‘Maybe this is the perfect year to try and test that out.’” 

The board decided to theme the box around a tradition and chose midnight breakfast, a tradition that has endured since 1987. 

“It’s probably one of our longest standing student traditions,” Sherwood said. “Dennis Engbrecht brought the tradition to campus, and it has always involved faculty serving students breakfast.” 

Alumni will have the opportunity to pick up their boxes during a drive-in event in December, when the tradition would typically be celebrated. The alumni could also instead request to have their box mailed to them.  

They are being asked to pay a $5 reservation fee for the boxes plus shipping and handling if they want it mailed. There are a total of 150 boxes and Sherwood believes they will all be given out. As to the future, the reunion in a box idea could continue. 

“Depending on what the response is to this idea, I think we would hopefully roll it out in different variations,” Sherwood said. 

In addition to the midnight breakfast, Bethel will be providing the following destress events to help students finish out the semester with finals week: activity papers, memes, playdough, journaling and cookies in the lower level of the Academic Center; a gratitude wall and activity papers on the second floor of the Academic Center; a prayer wall, cookies, doodle wall and other activities in the lower level of Everest-Rohr; a prayer wall and activity papers in the Nursing Wing; and cookies and jokes in the Science Wing. 

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