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The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Letter from the editor: Under social construction

Ashlee Mortenson

Just over four years ago, I slept on the scratchy, unforgiving floor of Nelson Hall, thinking about how excited I was for my future. I was on campus for one of Bethel’s admitted student overnights. 

The room I spent the night in, conscious of how loud my breathing was to the strangers around me, ended up being just across the hall from where I lived my freshman year. I made two friends: one I never spoke to again even though we pass in the halls, the other my roommate every year of college. I sat in on Story in Modern America, a class I have since taken and TAed. I ate in the DC and said to my dad, “Wow! Look at all these vegetarian options! And the soft serve machine!” I stood in the front row of Vespers, hands on the stage, feeling the music reverb through my chest and thought, “I could see myself here.” 

Now in my last semester, approaching the pit of post-grad dread and despair of the unknown, I hurtle down nostalgia rabbit holes. I walk by Lake Valentine and think about how my floor jumped in on our last day of freshman year. I sit in Benson Great Hall, remembering when my humanities lectures were held there as I was masked up, six feet from anyone else. I saw my Snapchat memories about the overnight, and they hit me like the Bethel Drive speed bumps I drive over too quickly. 

On top of this, I’ve discussed the potential constructs of society a lot in my senior seminar. The idea that reality could potentially not exist has made the pit of post-grad despondency seem deeper, and I’ve jumped down another rabbit hole, this one of social constructionism.  

Basically, social constructionism is a theory (used in psychology, international relations, communications, etc.) that tells us things typically thought of as biological are actually products of human definition and shaped by cultural and historical contexts.

I brush my hair in the morning because it’s frowned upon to look too messy in social contexts. I love the energy at Wild hockey games because Minnesotans care that their team wins over others. I read the news every morning, seeing what our society deems important enough to talk about.

We shape culture and are shaped by culture.

“Desiring the Kingdom” by James K. A. Smith discusses this heavily, particularly in the role of Christian higher education. Smith writes about how our lives are made up of secular liturgies that point to what we deem important and shape our lives. I was struck by this passage:

“We are launched into career (and careerism) by the holistic formation we’ve received at college. The classroom and laboratory, lecture hall and library have played some role in this. But the information provided there has not been nearly as potent as the formation we’ve received in the dorm and frat house, or the stadium and the dance club” (117).

In my mind I exchanged frat for Welcome Week, stadium for broomball rink and dance club for Vespers. I’ve been formed in the classroom, but what spoke to me on my admissions visit and what I remain married to is the outside culture of Bethel. My roommates, The Clarion, hanging out in the HiPPoS Lounge (please return our mascot Gus).

As a newspaper for and by students, The Clarion tries to capture these spaces. BSG’s determination to continue the broomball season despite a record-breaking warm winter. The importance of spaces such as Real Talk to have safe discussions outside the classroom. The glory we give to the football team and the gravity of finding a new head coach. These are all stories that show what we as a student body find important at Bethel. 

We shape culture and are shaped by culture.

A major selling point for 17-year-old Soraya was the socially constructed culture of Bethel. It swayed her so much that she happily spent four years writing research papers on eastern European history and eating build-your-own stir fry knowing she still owes $24,054 in personal loans.

And now I want to know which constructs of the Bethel community matter to you. What are you shaped by? What are you shaping? We want to hear from you! Email me at [email protected] or DM us on Instagram @thebuclarion.

Stories in this issue

Facing the unexpected in Ecuador

Football, family and C.S. Lewis

Feeling in color

Return to the rink

The widening path

Chasing history

How to: Live with an athlete

Culture in the classroom

Opening the conversation

Game changers: Five sports culture favorites

Allowed to leave

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About the Contributors
Soraya Keiser, Editor-in-Chief
Soraya Keiser, 21, is a senior journalism and international relations major. When she has free time, Soraya enjoys hiking through old-growth forests, blasting “Nice For What” and destroying her friends in the Goodreads reading challenge. If you’re looking for a good time, hire her as your Milwaukee tour guide.  [email protected] | 262.909.3915
Ashlee Mortenson, Staff Photographer
Ashlee Mortenson, 20, is a junior missional ministries major and communications minor. In her free time, Ashlee enjoys reading, rock climbing, watching “That 70’s Show”, embroidering, working on random art projects, collecting mugs and spending time with friends. [email protected] | 612.940.8029

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