Bethel in-camera

February 25, 2013 | 11 a.m.

"The opposite of 'whole and holy'"

Culture | Abby Ingalls for The Clarion

Bethel in-camera

These bottles were only a handful of the empty bottles found within the hidden cupboards of a Bethel dorm room and were discarded shortly after the photos were taken. | Photo for The Clarion by Abby Ingalls

“For Bethel to say that it is wrong for legal age undergraduate students to drink, but it is okay for grad students, faculty and professors to drink is hypocrisy.” – Male, Bethel Student

The idea to capture the “secret” life of Bethel began with the 2012 fall edition of the Bethel Magazine entitled “Whole and Holy.” For some reason this rubbed me the wrong way and I asked myself the question, “What would people think if they knew the behind-the-scenes of Bethel life?” Essentially, I wanted to capture the complete opposite of “whole and holy” living. In-Camera is a Latin term meaning “in private” or “in secret,” and I specifically wanted to capture the hush-hush side of Bethel that is so rarely talked about. 

“For me, if it’s a special occasion or if I’m just going out with friends casually, there is no harm in having one drink. I’m 21, it’s legal for me to drink, I don’t feel bad or convicted about it – I just do it because it’s social, I enjoy it, and I have the right to drink if I so choose.” – Female, Bethel Student

The reason why the title “Whole and Holy” pasted in bold letters across a group of smiling students bothered me was because it came across to me as self-righteous. I wanted to show that we are not perfect. I have come to love and respect Bethel and what this institute stands for, but I believe faculty, staff and students need to stop seeing ourselves as wholesome, smiling, almost-perfect do-gooders that have all been sliced from the same loaf of bread, and instead see ourselves as raw, diverse human beings with sinful natures and real issues. I did this not to scold or look down upon students, but instead to bring to light issues that are so infrequently talked about. I essentially wanted to give people a chance to stop painting over things or sugar-coating Bethel life. I have seen the glow of a lit cigarette in the distance on campus, I have heard story after story of alcohol in the dorm rooms, smoking pot in a bathroom with the shower on, sexual relationships and drunken nights. I am no better than anyone else, and I believe that all sins are equal and forgivable in the eyes of God. But the real question is: what are we doing about it? Will we still keep these issues in secret? Or will we allow the flash of the camera to expose and bring to light real-life issues going on with real-life students?

“I respect the intentions Bethel University has by placing these rules on students in order to maintain a degree of integrity and responsibility. However, I do have a hard time with being [21] and not being allowed to make your own decisions – even if that means suffering the consequences.” – Female, Bethel Student

What do you think of the Covenant for Life Together? Letters to the editor can be sent to Please limit submissions to 500 words or fewer.


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