Dear Bethel College Community:
As we approach fall, I would like to welcome everyone to Bethel College for the 2016-17 school year. I am pleased to serve as student body president and am excited to start working with each and every one of you at this fine liberal arts institution.
Bethel’s mission statement proclaims we are “imbued with the spirit of liberal arts,” and with the closing of St. Catherine, Sweet Briar, and other small liberal arts schools, we students have to remind ourselves why institutions like ours are important. Do we attend Bethel for a passport to privilege, or one to responsibility?
I caution choosing the former, and warn against being here to only receive credits, further a sport or activity, or even earn a degree. Do these play a factor? Absolutely, yet they are peripheral privileges and should not be the sole answer to “why liberal arts?”
Liberal arts institutions exist so people can learn for the sake of learning itself. They are not a checkmark to become a certified cog in a machine, but rather a way to study our machine, our world.
As we continue to learn about our world, it is our responsibility to incrementally change it for the better, starting here. Bethel is often touted as the best small liberal arts school in Kansas, and so I recapitulate; you have seen the statistics, they back me up. When you sit down for your first class and stare down a syllabus, know you are supported by one of the best places in Kansas to actively learn.
Active learning requires action (surprise!) which is ever-present in our Student Government Association (SGA). Make no mistake, SGA is an ardent force on Bethel’s campus, thanks in part to our engaged student body and attentive faculty, staff, and administration. President White himself says his cabinet and the board pay attention to the annual SGA Goals document, and formulate policy that aligns with students’ needs.
For examples of our ferver, look to the recent past; SGA has helped create Mojo’s Coffee Shop, revamp Aladdin dining services, and establish a student judiciary branch.
This year’s SGA Goals include, among others, investigating student housing, insisting on campus-wide implementation of Yes Means Yes, aiding in enhancement of practice and weight facilities, and adding an undergraduate research journal.
If you desire daily or institutional alterations, talk with your fellow SGA members; get our attention when you walk us on the sidewalk for the umpteenth time. Come to know us, our ideas, thoughts, and suggestions. Attend town hall meetings and leave comments on SGA’s renovated website (https://bethelsga.com/). Work with us so we can work for you.
Help to augment the campus energy SGA captures and relays by joining things, being present, and respecting differences.
Nestle within liberal arts to learn and improve our world, utilize SGA, pursue your passions, and above all else, stay “Bethel Busy.” I want to copyright that catchphrase someday. Have a memorable summer and we look forward to seeing you in August!
Jacob A. Miller
Student Body President