Editor’s note: The Clarion’s editorial board is an eight-person team of people who are passionate about the institution of journalism. While The Clarion strives to ensure that its reporting is objective, the editorial board facilitates a way for The Clarion to take stances on topics that matter to the Bethel community. The editorial board meets every other Tuesday.
Advising Day is a symbol for how Bethel and its students fill up their lives with too much stuff.
Preparations for Project Ex began at 9:15 a.m. Oct. 25 for senior Holly Bjelland. Everything needed to be in order before the first session at 9:30. Then she had to choose between a breakout or two panel discussions. Another speaker session was offered after that, but she had committed to joining the Bethel Board of Trustees for lunch. When 12:30 rolled around, Bjelland helped set up for the Job and Internship Fair, where she had to work until 2 p.m. After that, she worked an hour in the Campus Store, then met with her mentor, and attended other meetings until 6:30. At 7, she dug into her night class homework until she went to bed at 11 p.m.
Oct. 25 was Advising Day at Bethel. A day for students to meet with their advisers, prepare for upcoming registration and quite frankly, take a break from classes and the stress that being a college student brings.
Instead, it’s common for Bethel administrators, professors, Student Life and club leaders – and students themselves – fill that time with so much programming that much of the focus on advising – on next semester schedules, four-year plans and hopes and dreams – is lost. Students with similar situations to Holly, were unable to meet with their advisers because of work, meetings and commitments to campus organizations. Worse, advisers’ time may be constrained as well, often by departmental or committee meetings, meaning students must attempt to work around two busy schedules in order to get appointments with their advisers.
Holly’s situation may be extreme, but to some a relatable reality. Regardless all students feel the busyness, and Advising Day isn’t the only exception. Business students spend days jumping from senate meetings, to track meets, finishing with a night class and sneaking in TA grading in between. Nursing students are running from required volunteer hours and night clinical, only to come back to their dorm to study for weekly Friday tests. Theatre students are juggling class, choir and nightly three hour rehearsals for the upcoming play.
What is it about Bethel students that causes this sense of over-commitment? Is it our Christian nature to never say no? Is it because majority of our undergraduate population were student body presidents in high school? If you look at other schools, it’s not typical to see a student writing for poetry club while taking 18 credits and working an on-campus job four times a week.
This over-programming hurts in more way than one. Students and faculty alike. Yes, it is a choice for students to sign up for some of these commitments, but Bethel needs a break. Once a week – or perhaps even bi-weekly – where students don’t have to go to anything, do anything or be anything. A day of Sabbath if you will. A day of rest. It could take something as simple as honoring Advising Day. If Oct. 25 were left clear for advising and a different day were set aside for other events, students and advisers would be able to give each the attention that it deserves – and perhaps have a few moments to breathe.
This editorial was modified from an editorial written by Bethany Gustafson and Deanna Benyo. Managing editor Beret Leone edited and added to this editorial.