I’ve had a lot of encounters with Alumni of Bethel this week. I’m on a committee that’s planning events for Fall Fest in cooperation with the Alumni Office. I’m working on a story about a family who has been at Bethel in some capacity for five generations now. All of them have fun or significant memories of their time at Bethel, and it makes me wonder…What will I remember?My parents were here in the 70s and early 80s, and they have entertaining memories of atrociously boring convocations being interrupted by a Merry Melodies episode (Looney Tunes for those who don’t remember the program’s name) when someone commandeered the sound booth and switched the “Ascent of Man” video for the cartoon.Ooh…side note: did you know that “fud” (a real word that was probably the inspiration for Elmer Fudd) means a rabbit’s butt? Doesn’t it make sense? Because Elmer was always the butt of Bugs Bunny’s jokes. Gail Niles Stucky, who was here with my parents and is now a librarian at Bethel, recalled the days before the halls in Goering and Haury were carpeted and the guys especially would flood the halls with soapy water and go sliding.There was a prank with a greased pig in the dining hall, a cow in the library.Incoming freshmen are treated to a history of Bethel symposium with Dale Schrag, Director of Church Relations, who slips in a number of fun prank stories and highlights from years gone by.So I wonder what the person who becomes the next Dale Schrag will include from my era at Bethel when he or she welcomes new freshmen to the college.I know I’m far too close to my experiences to know what will last and what will slip from memory, but if I became the next Dale Schrag, I can think of a few moments that I might remember.The things I remember both carry on traditions and are unique to my generation. I’ll remember special events on campus, like Barry Bartel’s inauguration as president, or the opening of the new stadium.I’ll remember the winter when the steps of the Ad Building were transformed into a sledding hill, christened “Herman Bubbert Lodge” and equipped with plastic sleds for students and faculty alike to enjoy. That one would fall under Dale Schrag’s definition of “classy pranks.”I’ll remember Choir tour in a category all by itself. I’ll remember John Wiens’ hilarious “Tales of the Tour” stories and watching the Office as we crossed into Canada. I’ll remember singing in Bluffton, OH and at the nursing home where we sang “Beautiful River.” I’ll remember some great classes and teachers that made me realize the difference between me and them sometimes isn’t big enough to see. I’ll remember campus reactions to major events outside the college, like when KU won the NCAA tournament, or more importantly, who was elected president in 2008. It hasn’t even happened yet, but I know that no matter who wins, Obama or McCain, I will remember how my friends and teachers reacted.And yet when I look at all of these things, I notice how generic they are, and I know that it will probably be the smaller, but more personal things like hot chocolate parties or Passage to India excursions with the girls in my mod, Radar Ray & the Creekbusters, late night Drubers’ runs, walking to Christmas Gala in heels in the snow, how awful the food was, late night Collegian production nights, the alcohol controversies and incidents, backstage in unitards for the Magic Flute, Open Road concerts, Frisbee games at night.But like I said, I’m too close to the question right now. Ask me again in ten years. I’ll still be wondering.
Bethel College is a four-year, private, primarily residential, liberal arts college. Students may participate in campus spiritual life, fine arts activities, sports and more than 50 clubs and organizations. Bethel’s academic buildings, including its historic Administration Building, the Krehbiel Science Center and the James A. Will Family Academic Center, are clustered around the Green, an open grassy area where students gather. The college year consists of fall and spring semesters, a January interterm and a summer term.