Bethel University’s campus pastor Matt Runion campaigns to end applause caused by tray dropping in Monson dining center.
By Bri Shaw | Features Reporter
Bethel University’s campus ministries pastor Matt Runion saw his worst nightmare become a reality. Four years ago, Runion eased his way down the second staircase in Bethel’s Monson dining center alongside his seminary intern. Right when he was about to reach the landing, his foot caught on the carpeting of the third step and he began to stumble horrendously. He fell hard to his knees, and the only thing left in front of him was his empty tray while everything else rained to the floor below. Even his glass cup, now broken in shards, flew over the railing. The glass sprinkled on various Bethel students’ trays while dining below.
“Every time I tell that story people ask ‘Did people clap?’,” Runion said. “But I don’t think people did just because of how dramatic it was…which is funny because everyone knows ‘Oh Runion hates it because it happened to him’ when really it’s not.”
With parents, grandparents, BUILD students, children and other off campus visitors eating in the DC, Runion’s main concern is for those who may not know it’s lightheartedness. He feels as though outsiders identify the situation as a form of mockery. There have even been reports about students with extreme cases of anxiety avoiding the DC for that very reason.
“I’m only going on a gut feeling that it’s not positive,” Runion said. “But my gut feeling is saying that visitors or marginalized people- it’s a negative impact.”
With that in mind, Runion took his concern about the applause to Twitter and tweeted about it with the hashtag “BUHoldYourApplause” tacked on the end. Though Runion tweets prolifically, which is partly why he posted it, he believes one of Bethel’s strong suites is having hard conversations as a community.
“When we’re a part of a majority culture and we’re part of that “in” group it’s most important to think about the impact of an action or a word than the intent,” Runion said.