September 18, 2014 | 9 a.m.
By Monique Kleinhuizen, Communications Strategist
BSA – short for Bethel Student Association – has been a familiar acronym on campus for years. This year, student leaders have changed the name to BSG, or Bethel Student Government, which better reflects the active role of leaders who shape the student experience at Bethel.
What hasn’t changed is the structure of Bethel student leadership. There’s still a president, a vice president, and a group of student executives leading various departments--from United Cultures of Bethel, which seeks to move communities toward a more accurate reflection of God’s kingdom; to clubs and organizations, which is charged with 30 student-led, BSG-funded groups. Whether a student is interested in broomball or anime, whether she participates in social events or would rather take advantage of residence hall offerings, her student experience is shaped by BSG.
“There was a great deal of confusion among the student body regarding the difference between BSA and Student Activities, the largest department within BSA,” says Dan Wanous ’15, BSG vice president. Student Activities (SA) was just one branch of BSA, but the confusion over similar names often overshadowed other branches.
SA has a unique mission: to provide campus opportunities funded by students’ activity fee. “There is never a weekend where students don’t have something to do on campus. There’s no excuse for someone to leave and go to a party,” says BSG President Ashley Ancona ’15. “BSG is all about creating a community and atmosphere that draws students in and keeps them on campus, and gives them an opportunity to connect with each other and grow outside of Chapel.”
But SA, though integral to the student experience, is only one slice of BSG, and students hope the name change will help delineate the two entities. “’Student Association’ could mean anything,” says Heather Richards, who works closely with student leaders as assistant dean for student programs. She says there are about a dozen groups at the university that have some reference to “student association” in their names. “It does water down a bit the level of responsibility these students have had.”
Student leaders, according to Richards, are “the voice of the student body to university administration to be sure that the needs of students are kept as the priority.” She says one example of such a dynamic happened in fall 2013, when students had concerns over an email from President Jay Barnes outlining changes at the university. “The leadership of the Student Government organized a Town Hall Meeting for students, which resulted in a standing-room-only crowd in the Underground. Students really want to be informed and to understand what is happening at Bethel and how it will impact them and future students.”