Archive for Campus News

A look inside the beaver suit


For me, being a mascot was energizing, important, and fun.

When you put on the suit, you are no longer yourself. You become a new character, the essence of school spirit and socialization.

J. Denny Beaver is loved by everyone. He is the most popular student on campus; everyone knows who J. Denny is. He is a strong character who has a cheeky personality at times. He’s dynamic, mold-able, shifting. He can be a Christmas beaver, a dance competition champion, a football fan, a friend, a joy.

Jenny Beaver is the new girl. People were not sure what to think of her at first. She is a very fun character. She knows she’s beautiful and she is very feminine and flirtatious. Quick to flip her hair and wave.

J. Denny and Jenny are the most well know couple on campus. They are a new couple, so when you see them, most of the time they are holding hands or picking on each other. But they always make sure to break away from each other for a bit to socialize with more people.

Being a person inside the suit has its ups and downs.

Inside the suit it is hot and kind of heavy. You can only see through where their teeth are and the way the helmet fits inside the head you are always looking at someone’s shoes unless you wrench your neck all the way up to see straight ahead of you. So it is easy to bump into things, or people. But its an an obstacle you learn to overcome.

Being a part of an important piece of Bluffton University’s school spirit was a wonderful experience.

Because the identity of who is in the J. Denny suit is a secret, I was constantly looking over my shoulder and gravitating toward students I had never met before, as to not give myself away.

The secrecy of it all is half of the fun. Meeting new people and performing is the other half.

The smiles and tugs of young children, the high fives and fist bumps from alumni and the acceptance and inclusion of the students and the freedom of performance and character interpretation, make being a mascot pleasant and enjoyable.

Being a beaver mascot was a worthwhile addition to my college career and will be one of the proud memories I take with me after graduation.

“Me Too Monologues” debuts on campus

Dr. Melissa Friesen’s “Theatre for Social Change” class is producing and performing the “Me Too Monologues” this month as a class project. The “Me Too Monologues” is a collection of stories about identity from Bluffton University students, staff, and faculty.

Members of Dr. Friesen’s class are performing these monologues to empower the community of the university as well as bring to light some issues concerning identity that are often stigmatized or kept quiet. The concept of “Me Too Monologues” was developed and first performed at Duke University with their community and this model has since been adapted by many other schools. The monologues are anonymous and those who submitted pieces assigned I.D. numbers to their work.

The “Me Too Monologues” at Bluffton will address topics such as body image and mental health to open a dialogue on campus to think about what identity means to each of us.

The performance will occur April 14, 2015 at 9:00 PM in Ramseyer Auditorium, College Hall, located on the Bluffton University campus. Admission is free and Arts and Lecture credit will be available.

For more information, please contact Dr. Friesen at

University librarian discusses the relevance of digital humanities


by: Kenny Beeker

Archives and Special Collections Librarian Carrie Phillips presented on digital humanities for Civic Engagement Day at Bluffton University. Every year, Bluffton University holds Civic Engagement Day as a way to explore deeply a single idea. This year’s focus was education.

Phillips connected this concept to the ability of digital humanities to be utilized in an educational setting. She then explained the early history of the idea of digital humanities. It came from the ideas of Father Roberto Busa, a priest that wanted to index great masses of written works. He knew that his task was impossible without the help of computers, so he went and met with IBM’s Thomas Watson and they eventually found a way to accomplish the goal. At this point, the art was humanities computing, but as a book was soon to be published on the subject changed its name to Digital Humanities in hopes of making the practice sound more interesting. According to Phillips own definition, digital humanities is the crossroads between human culture and technology.

After giving the background of the subject, Phillips focused on the numerous advantages that digitizing archived documents brings. She described it as, “using archival resources in new and interesting ways.” With the number of different devices that surround us, nearly all Americans have access to the internet. However, it can be much more difficult, if not impossible to visit archives around the world and see the documents that they have stored. By digital humanities students and researchers can see documents that could otherwise only be accessed by traveling across the country or even across the globe.

Phillips then showed a TED talk video that described more interesting things that can be done using digital humanities. By processing the data found in hundreds of thousands of books, the use of words can be graphed across the centuries. In a sense, it is turning qualitative data into quantitative data that can be easily disseminated to various purposes. By making words numerical, there are numerous patterns that can be found in the use of language.

Lastly, Phillips showed her audience several ways in which digital humanities were being used in new and creative ways. She first displayed a map of flights traveling across the United States. Data of flight departures and arrivals were digitized to make a colorful display of flight patterns. The next image was of a hundred dollar bill that was constructed from thousands of small images drawn by various artists. The diverse images came together to form a unified picture.

The last thing she showed her audience was the Bluffton University Memory. A website that is filled by images and documents found in the university archives that have been digitized. This served as a more personal example of how digital humanities is becoming an important part of education very close to home.

Riley Creek Festival reminder


by: Kristina Ciminillo


Everything’s Coming Up Ducks! This is just Ducky! Try Your Duck Luck! Duck Day is on the Way!

Things to Think About:












Did you miss the volunteer sign up? Well get your tail to a computer kitty kat and quack it up to Emma Regula at or Shanon Gallagher at

Sophomore Emily Huxman wins speech competition

by: Caitlin Nearhood

Advocacy for women’s rights isn’t new, but it is still important to acknowledge.

Emily Huxman, a sophomore communication and marketing double major from Waterloo, Ontario, won first place in Bluffton’s annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest on March 25. Her speech, “Reducing Global Violence against Women through Education,” advocated for strengthening connections of Christ’s followers in order to provide education and reduce violence worldwide.

Even before college, Huxman wasn’t a stranger to public speaking.

“I grew up in a family of communicators,” she said. “My mom, dad and older sister all loved public speaking. I started doing public speaking competitively my freshman year of high school and instantly fell in love with it.”

With a topic in mind in January she started researching information. And with the weekly help of Dr. Gerald Mast, professor of communication, Huxman composed a call to action speech. She advocated donating to both organizations who build schools and those that support the education of girls in various countries around the world, like Compassion International.

“Education is such a valuable asset and it is a tangible solution for so much violence towards women,” she said.

Each contestant had to compose a speech relating the Christian peace position to a modern issue of 1,500 words or eight to ten minutes in length.
As the top finisher, Huxman won $175. She now moves on to the next competition against the winners of other Mennonite colleges in the North America. Video recordings of each speech will be seen by a board of judges who will decide the ultimate winner.

For those apprehensive about advocating for their cause, Huxman advises facing the fear.

“Public speaking is an amazing tool that allows you to reach a large audience and talk about something that means a lot to you,” she said.
Second and third place finishers were senior Chay Reigle, and first-year student Venessa Owsley.

A banquet for hunger


by: Autumn Young

At first glance, the room resembled a sort of strange tea party. Tattered table cloths lay on the floor, a circle of folding chairs occupied a corner, a table, already set with glass dishware, was raised above it all. This, however, was not a tea party. This was a way to live another life.

Under normal circumstances we each get to live only the life we’re given, but Wednesday evening Bluffton students were given the chance to experience an entirely different social class when the Bluffton Global Health class, led by Professor Ross Kauffman, hosted a hunger banquet for Bluffton University’s Civic Engagement Day.

Over forty students and faculty arrived at the Kreider room in Marbeck and were handed cards explaining their character and station in life. For the next hour they would not be Bluffton students; instead, they would become sweatshop workers, widows who subsist on meager servings of rice, and plantation workers who don’t even make enough to buy food for the day. A lucky few would become part of the twenty percent—those who make over 6,300 dollars a year—but the other eighty percent of the students in the room would become representatives of the world’s poor.

By the time everyone had settled into their new, temporary roles, those few students sitting at the table had already been served their meal of pasta, salad and breadsticks. The majority of students, however, remained hungry.

Students Alicia Rodriguez and Sarah Klenke facilitated the event, giving a brief explanation of world hunger and prompting the attendees to question their own lives and roles they could play in the problem of hunger and poverty.

“Hunger is about power. Its roots lie in inequality,” Klenke said, emphasizing that poverty, and the hunger that follows it, is not a problem of overpopulation, or a choice. She cited global shifts in weather, land unavailability and unchangeable circumstance as major causes of hunger.

“Look around the room right now and recognize that equality does not exist here,” said Rodriguez, a Junior Dietetics major.

That inequality became even clearer to students as food was served. The “middle income” group, those students making between $1,128 and $6,300 dollars a year, where given plates of rice and beans. The students sitting on the floor, however, were given only small packets of rice along with strict directives to let the men eat first. These students were making less than $1,128 a year.

The banquet idea, according to the students who hosted the event, was inspired by the organization Oxfam, which fights poverty, injustice and hunger around the world. The organization encourages groups to hold “hunger banquets” in order to raise awareness of world hunger, providing tools and resources to do so.
The event ended with a renewed emphasis on Bluffton’s theme for the year: education for life.

“Education is the single greatest weapon against poverty…we want you all to think about what role education plays in hunger,” Klenke said.

And students seemed more than up for the task. “For women especially, getting an education is definitely one key…if you don’t have education you don’t get a good enough job, which means you don’t get paid enough, which means you don’t have enough food, or at least good quality food, which leads to all kinds of problems. You also can’t learn anything if you’re hungry, so it all kind of goes hand in hand,” Sophomore Kim Meyer, an attendee of the event, during a discussion shortly after the dinner.

Myer reiterated an underlying theme of the banquet, which stressed how little choice people have in their lives, just how much where you are born can affect your future, and how hopeless it can be to try to improve your life when caught in a never-ending cycle. Though Bluffton students got a chance to live another life for an evening, for most of the world’s hungry, that dream lies just out of reach.

I spy pie in the sky, we want you!

by: Kristina Ciminillo

uncle sam

Submit your original works of: fantastic music, wonderful art, powerful poetry, entertaining short stories, enrapturing prose, awesome essays, and inspiring speeches!

Email submissions to:

Deadline date: March 31st

My Civic Engagement Day experience


by: Justin Mattix

Civic Engagement Day is an opportunity for all of Bluffton University students to engage in a wide range of issues. The day is filled with many sessions that encompass one theme. This year’s theme: Education.

Many speakers gathered around the idea of speaking about something that they are very passionate about. During a session held in the Kreider room, four students and a recent graduate from Bluffton University gathered to speak about learning that doesn’t take place within the classroom. They titled their discussion, “Learning without a Syllabus”.

The participants who led this discussion talked about many experiences they have had. Their focus was to promote internship opportunities. These students have experience more by doing, rather than by learning in the classroom.

Becca Lapp, a Spanish and TESOL major, describes learning outside of the classroom as an “opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture of learning”. She goes on to explain that when students immerse themselves in a learning community outside of the classroom, they expand on horizons that only deepen relationships and the ability to experience problems that will never occur in a restricted classroom. Becca has experienced many of these difficulties in her own experiences in other countries such as: Honduras, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, as well as Guatemala.

Experiences trump all learning through worksheets. Emotional stimulation isn’t something that can be simulated in the classroom. Rachel Keske, a Math Education major, describes that serving in college is an opportunity that should be experienced by all students on campus. “They must broaden their views on surrounding environments while they have the chance”, she said.

Eric Wilfer, a recent graduate of Bluffton University, backed Rachel up on her claims. He promotes learning by doing as one of the best suitable techniques for all those attempting to learn something new. Internships for him, propelled him towards getting a job straight out of college as a sales representative at Fastenal.

One last leading determiner for learning is passion. According to Appiah Adubafour, “passion equates learning”. When one attempts to learn, they must pursue it with all out desire for growth. He also urges students, as well as any other students of life to find mentors to walk along with for a communal learning experience. Mentors offer encouragement when things aren’t looking fruitful.

Griffin Kuras, a student and attendee of the discussion, left the session inspired. “A lot of the things that we heard seem to promote opportunities for deeper, stimulating learning.” He has already accepted an internship opportunity for the summer.

Daniel Piero, a Math and Physics double major, describes similar uses of mentors. He urges all students to find a professor on campus to help them in their learning. “Professors know a lot- they also know a lot about opportunities for worthy students.” This is an important aspect for Daniel Piero’s success. One of his mentors, Steve Harnish, presented him an opportunity to becoming an intern at Blue Waters working with the concept of Parallel Computing. His passion and pride for learning has pushed him to succeed in fields of Physics.

He ended the discussion with a powerful message to life-long learners. “Everyone can learn a lot, but it takes a special person to be interested in one topic.”

Civic Engagement Day keynote speaker: Larry Starr

by: Dyson Bowman

Yoder Recital hall was filled with students on the night of March 25, 2015 as Bluffton University’s Civic Engagement Day brought in former athletic trainer Larry Starr. Starr was first introduced to athletic training back in 1960, in the summer before his freshman year of high school, when his brother was doing lessons from the Cramer Correspondence book on athletic training.dhte

He eventually went on to attend Ohio University, where he decided that athletic training was the career for him, while learning the ways of Al Hart. While Starr was a junior at Ohio University, Hart offered him a job as assistant athletic trainer. He could not take that title due to not having his degree yet so they settled on Star being the assistant to the athletic trainer.

At the age of 23, Hart called Starr asking if he wanted to interview for a Major League Baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. During the interview Starr was told that they loved him but were concerned with his lack of height, or in his words “vertically challenged,” and youthful appearance. A week later he was asked to come in for another interview where the same things were said about his appearance. He was hired anyway based on an impressive reference.

An orthopedic physician in Columbus, Ohio, told them that Starr “stands tall above all men,” when asked about his height. Starr second guessed his decision, wondering whether or not he should take the job. Starr’s brother persuaded him to take the job, as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

1974, after being with the reds for a few years, Starr noticed that the players weren’t as fit as they should be. Asking for money and permission, Starr was able to start a strength program for the team. Much of the staff/coaches believed that a strength program wasn’t smart for baseball players, and to their surprise Starr’s program led the Reds to a World Series in 1975.

“No matter what kind of player they are, there is always something good in that player,” said Starr, “You have to understand the people you work with.”
Starr believes that athletics teach individuals great things. According to him, athletics teach players to develop a great work ethic, how to overcome adversity, mentorship, and the importance of family. Being in athletics involves being away from family, as well as causing many obstacles that athletes have to overcome. You must remember where you came from, and who has helped you out along the way.

Starr concluded by saying, “It doesn’t matter how much I know, if the athlete doesn’t trust me, I am of no help to them.”

Technology geeks wanted


by: Kristina Ciminillo

To your Geek on in BU Tech Center. They are looking for friendly, experienced personnel to work between 6 and 10 hours per week.

Think you can handle it?

Talk to Sam Stucky at ASAP for an app