OBU writer blossoms into columnist

By Emma Patton, Editor-in-Chief

Nicole Smith hails from the small town of Pond Creek, Oklahoma, but her list of journalistic accomplishments is anything but small.

After the Oklahoma Press Association awarded her a paid internship this summer, the junior journalism major was encouraged to write columns. Little did she know her boss at the Tri County Herald entered her into a statewide contest.

Nicole Smith interviews Governor Mary Fallin for OBU’s student broadcast, Shawnee News 30. Photo by: Stephen Draper / The Bison

“Oh yeah, I won. I mean, it was just a monthly [competition],” Smith said of her article, which was judged to be the best out of 185 newspapers eligible for entry.

The column, Smith said, was inspired by her conversation with a man at the Oklahoma Press Association Convention.

“He asked me, ‘Why does your family stay in Pond Creek, where you live?’” Smith said. “[I told him] I come from a small town and it’s made me who I am and it’s where my roots are, and to my family, roots and where you come from are pretty important.”

Being from Pond Creek may have even helped Smith get her internship. Brian Blansett, publisher of the Tri-County Herald, found out that Smith was applying to be one of the 24 students chosen for the prestigious internship and requested that Smith be assigned to his paper.

“She came from a small town and just kind of fit right in,” said Blansett, who runs the paper in offices in Meeker, Oklahoma.

But it wasn’t just Smith’s background with tight-knit communities that got her the job. Blansett mentored Smith back in the spring semester, when she interned for the Tri-County Herald for academic credit.

“I was impressed with the work that she had done, when she was doing her internship for class credit. I thought she had a lot of potential,” Blansett said.

Smith juggled her internship last semester with writing for The Bison and co-producing OBU’s student broadcast, Shawnee News 30. To many of her professors, it was no surprise that she received two journalism scholarships last semester—and she still has two more years to grow.

Blansett stretched Smith’s writing abilities by giving her a wide variety of assignments. The diversity not only allowed Smith to sharpen her grammar skills, but also the chance to meet all kinds of people, Smith said.

“I talked to a former dragracer,” Smith said. “I talked to a dairy farmer that’s trying to do his own dairy in Meeker; I talked to some athletes. There’s] just some really cool people, and I kind of got to see what it was like to be a part of the community.”

After eight-weeks at the Tri-County Herald, Smith’s official internship ended and her first real-life job began.

“I was asked to keep writing for them,” Smith said. “I’m going to cover McCloud football.”

Smith plans to work for the Tri-County Herald this semester and then will go on to do journalism after graduation, she said. And though nothing is certain yet, her small-town roots may run deep enough to pull her back home after walking the stage.

“It’s pretty early to say, but there are jobs around Pond Creek in that field,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t be unhappy, because it is my hometown and there’s a lot of things I love about it…I could see myself staying there, just depends on where God takes me.”

Global Outreach week is underway

By Morgan Smith, Faith Editor 

Mission work

Alyssa Sperrazza / The Bison 

is not only an important part of life at OBU, but it’s essential for the spreading the Gospel.

Every year, OBU takes a week to remind students of this.

GO Week kicked off Monday with the first chapel of the week. The campus’s Global Consultants, Ryan and Julie Bustler were the speakers.The theme of the week is “Unashamed” to remind students not to be ashamed of sharing the Gospel.

Throughout the whole week, there has been a prayer walk in the Geiger Center (GC) to show the need to proclaim the Gospel to other nations. There was also a “GO Fair” in the Geiger Center (GC) on Tuesday and Wednesday to promote this summer’s mission trips.

“The International Mission Board will be here to help us promote the vision for reaching the nations with the Gospel, and then some other organizations that will host tables during
the fair,” said Dr. Joy Turner, the Director of Global Outreach, prior to the fair.

Students and faculty who participated in GO trips last summer hosted tables and answered questions.

There was also an event called “Culture Exchange” on Tuesday evening. It took place outside the GC. Students were able to sample food from other cultures and meet with international students and faculty.

The Friday Chapel will feature a panel of students who have taken part in previous GO trips.

“Really the whole week is about drawing attention to God, and His purpose in the nations,” Dr. Turner said.

Turner said that this year’s GO trips include different locations than previous years, such as Ecuador. Whether or not students will be able to go on these GO trips depends on how many apply. A variety of locations offers a variety of experiences, Turner said. Students will have opportunities to spread the Gospel through music, work with orphans or church planting in the United States, among others.

Morgan Groves is one of the co-chairs for GO week with Tyler Curry.

“We’ve met with several people in the Spiritual Life office and Residential Office to put GO week together,” Morgan said.

This is Morgan’s first year to plan it. She went on a GO trip to Zambia, Africa last summer.

“In the past year the Lord has really put missions on my heart and that’s something I’ve been praying about, so when they asked I said yes,” she said. “I’m just really excited to get others excited about GO week.”

Morgan said that she hopes students recognize the need to share and be intentional about the Gospel.

She advices those who are considering a GO trip to pray before making a decision.

“Talk to people who have gone before and see what things they struggled with and listen to their stories,” Morgan said. “Really, just apply for a trip and start going through the process of it and the Lord will open and close doors as he wishes.

Dr. Turner said that she hopes students gain an awareness of OBU’s campus and the needs in the United States, and the rest of the world, during GO Week.

“Part of our mission statement at OBU is engaging a diverse world, and we really feel like this fulfills that part, and also integrating faith and knowledge,” she said.

Dr. Turner also asks people to pray and be open during the week.

“Prayer is obviously a key element in all of this,” she said.

New communication professor kicks off debate program

By London Bradshaw, Contributing Writer 

Sarkey’s Communication Center welcomed Professor Scot Loyd this fall, along with his big dreams for Bison students.

Professor Loyd, who teaches

Dr. Vickie Ellis / The Bison

communication classes, plans to start a competitive debate program at OBU this year.

“The type of debate that I am bringing to OBU is known as public debate, which emphasizes oratory and critical thinking in a unique fashion that isn’t readily apparent in other formats,” said Loyd.

Last Thursday kicked off the grand opening of the debate program. At the meeting, Loyd shared his vision for the future of debate at OBU.

“Our plan is to spend this semester laying a foundation for a debate program that serves our students in the development of critical thinking and communication skills, positions them to be a part of a winning tradition, and ultimately this path will benefit and inspire others and glorify God,” Loyd said.

Loyd said he thinks debate will be extremely helpful for the students participating. Though a few students have joined, the team is still very much open to new people.

“Students will benefit from debate because it will improve their critical thinking and oratory skills immediately, ” Loyd said. “Over time, students involved in debate are uniquely poised to be of greatest benefit to the institutions they choose to serve because they have done the hard work of thinking through the difficult challenges that face our society and world. They have been challenged to not only identify problems but to articulate solutions.”

Dr. Vickie Ellis, the Communications Arts chair, was involved in getting Loyd to OBU to start the debateprogram.

“Dr. Barbe and I have been dreaming over a Bison debate team for years,” Ellis said. “First, we believe that the components involved in debate (critical thinking, research, topic analysis, questioning, speaking, and explaining) complement OBU‘s mission statement in powerful ways.”

Ellis said that Loyd’s ability to teach students debate will ultimately point back to Christ.

“In our program, Professor Loyd emphasizes debaters’ opportunities to use ethical and moral reasoning–reasoning that brings glory to God. Furthermore, the range of both competitors and topics involve the celebration of a diverse world, a world where dynamic clash points back to God’s Truth,” Ellis said.

Overall, debate is good for more than school—it is good for life, Loyd said.

Debate skills are also helpful because it teaches us to control and channel our emotions in positive and useful directions and is the foundation for civil discourse, skills which absolutely need a revival in our culture,” Loyd said.

Laura Hickman, senior communication studies major and member of the new debate team, can hardly wait for the competitions to start.

“I’m so excited that we are finally getting a debate team,” Hickman said. “I’ve been waiting for this since my freshman year, and I think that this will be another stellar opportunity to represent OBU throughout our community.”

OBU named 2017 Best in the West

By Rebekah McPheeters, Contributing Writer

Many students who attend Oklahoma Baptist University believe that this university is the best, and OBU has again proven that it is indeed one of the best schools in the country. OBU has been named the Best in the West for 2017 by the Princeton Review for the twelve consecutive year.

This award names the top 381 colleges nation-wide and divides them by region. The honor is given based upon a variety of criteria, including a survey of students and administrators.

The honor of being named one of the top universities in the region and in the country has an effect beyond just boosting Bison pride.  Bill Brantley, the Director of Admissions of OBU, said that the award sends a stark message to prospective students.

“Great rankings like OBU’s placement on the Best in the West List certainly helps enrollment,” Brantley said. “When students and families are researching universities, seeing OBU on lists like the Best in the West certainly helps them in knowing what a quality university OBU is.”

The placement on the list by Princeton Review is not only based on academics, however; but a wide range of criteria.  The categories of excellence include athletics, student life, and success after graduation.  In each category, OBU scored high, reflecting the diversity of students at OBU, Brantley said.

“I don’t think there is one big reason that students come to OBU,” Brantley said.

For some students, the community they find is reason enough to make the trek to Bison Hill. For others, it is athletics, and for some, it is the integration of faith and learning. Yet, one of the most important aspects of OBU are often not reflected by rankings such as the Best in the West, and that is the spiritual growth that can occur at OBU, he said.

“Rankings that OBU receives tell a story of the amazing things that are happening here at OBU,” he said.  “[We] pray over the students that we are working with.  We hope that they are seeking the Lord’s leading in their life and listening to His voice as He leads.”

Brantley said that though it is a high honor to be recognized, it is no surprise.

“OBU is one of the finest institutions in the country, and our placement on this list is a confirmation of the great work that is happening here at OBU.”

Student voter turnout for SGA elections breaks record

By Payton Clark, Assistant News Editor 

screenshot-2016-09-15-22-09-06In a record breaking voter turnout, the results are in and your newest SGA senators and freshman representatives have been elected.

Last Wednesday, over 600 students voted in the Fall SGA election, sending 10 students into freshman senator, president and vice president positions, as well as senator at large positions for upperclassmen. The winners were sworn into SGA at the meeting Wednesday night and results were released Thursday.

“I don’t know specifics as of now but I know that no institution can ever be perfect,” newly elected freshman class president Chad Johnson said. “I hope to get OBU a little bit closer as I continue to be a part of SGA and continue to learn specifics of how I can help better this place for all of us.”

Johnson and Megan Kalinowski were elected to the highest freshman SGA positions, president and vice president.

“I chose to get involved in SGA because I really want to be able to help people,” Johnson said. “I’m fairly new here being a freshman, but I believe that as members of my class start having problems I can be the person they come to in order to help fix those problems.”

Both Johnson and Kalinowski believe that while OBU is a very well-rounded community, there can always be improvements, and they hope to help start them.

“I would like to see the community of our school continue to remain strong, and perhaps even grow stronger,” Kalinowski said. “I really want to be someone that people can come to and express their thoughts and ideas about how campus life can improve, and be a person that gets those things done for my peers.”

Although this is her first time participating in student government, Kalinowski is honored and eager for the opportunities given to her through SGA.

“I chose to get involved with SGA because government is something that I find intriguing and interesting,” Kalinowski said. “I know I will learn so much from those older and more experienced in SGA, and I hope to continue on as a member of SGA for the duration of my time here on Bison Hill.”

Johnson also hopes to grow from his experience in student government.

“I am incredibly excited to be a part of SGA,” Johnson said. “I think that through being involved in this organization I will become a better leader and hopefully learn a little about serving a group of people better.”

Along with Johnson and Kalinowski, freshmen Emily Justice, Tim Duncan and Seongmin “Moonie” Moon were elected as class senators.

“I was impressed with the freshman in particular during our first Senate meeting and their ability to ask the right questions and suggest amendments that ensure the proper allocation of funds,” SGA president Hunter Doucette said.

“The executives of SGA are also thrilled with the Committee Chairs appointed for this year, Quentessa Garraway, Abigail Lea, Lyndsey Kalinowski, and Erica Watkins,” Doucette said. “We expect them to lead their committees with great zeal and originality.”

Five students were also elected into upperclassmen positions. Casey House, Clayton Myers, Blaine Whitson and Truett Ross were elected to be senators at large, while Kysha Miller was chosen to fill the vacant senior senator position.

“I am optimistic about this year and the new, innovative ideas and solutions SGA will propose,” Doucette said.

Through internal SGA improvements Doucette hopes to give students more knowledge about SGA affairs as well as to receive more feedback from students.

“We are aiming to fortify our social media/PR presence in order for students to have better insight,” Doucette said.

Students can continue to get involved in SGA through communication with their fellow classmates and representatives.

“Even though the elections are over, students can still be involved with SGA by sharing their ideas and expressing their concerns to their representatives,” Doucette said. “After all, our students are the best source of new ideas.”

Following the elections, one of the next orders of business for SGA is to address student parking.

“OBU’s police department believes the parking situation on campus has bettered with the added stickers in accordance to housing assignments,” Doucette said. “That being said, we know there is lack of convenient spots on campus.”

Doucette wants to remind students that not only can they park in the Noble parking lot at all times, but that OBU is in the process of creating new lots.

“A new parking lot will be installed behind Bailey Business Center in the coming months, which will provide more convenient parking spots,” Doucette said. “SGA is also working with George Haines, the Director of Facilities Management, to find a clear way to communicate with students about where they can park so there is no confusion and fewer tickets given.”

Wifi expected to improve

by Mikaleh Offerman, News Editor

It is a college truth that a student without access to reliable wifi has trouble studying, completing homework and streaming Netflix.

Alena Blakely / The Bison

Over the summer, OBU switched from using an outside company to provide access to wifi on campus, and began managing the wifi from campus. The company, Apogee, more commonly recognized as ResNet by students, took care of the technical and administrative tasks that come with providing wifi and internet to over two-thousand people.

“Most of the time, I have a hard time loading my emails…[and] downloading documents,” Abby Bennett, a Howard Apartment resident said.

“I end up using a lot of my data when I really wish I could have wifi that works consistently… it makes it hard even to watch Netflix or load anything on my phone.”

Apogee’s website claims that their “updated solutions further reduces manpower required by campus IT staff to address compliance, security, support and network monitoring [freeing up] IT to work on infrastructure improvements and additional institutional goals.”

After five years of paying Apogee to manage the task, OBU decided that it would be more cost effective and beneficial to the university to provide its own internet.

“When the contract came up for renewal, we believed we had improved our overall infrastructure to the level of being able to compete with what Apogee provided,” Assistant VP for Information Systems Gary Nickerson said. “So, we proposed bringing the residential wireless network back under our management to save money and to increase bandwidth.”

Although many students have experienced internet speeds that are poor compared to past years, they may not have to wait long for the internet on campus to speed up.

“We are currently completing the last phases of improving the bandwidth and should be able to make this increased capacity available to students in the next few weeks,” Nickerson said.

Unfortunately, the necessary equipment for installing the wireless network was late coming in, which was the biggest challenge in the installation process. Despite this, all facilities had access to wifi by Aug. 15.

“Once the firewall is configured and tested, we will be able to increase the overall bandwidth available for each student,” Nickerson said. “In the past, we contracted with Apogee for the amount of bandwidth we could afford for each student who connected. Now we have the ability to increase the bandwidth without additional overall cost.”

Because of the lower costs, OBU was able to hire a network administrator to manage and monitor the network.

“We do not have network staff who can monitor twenty-four hours per day, but we do have local staff who can respond quicker when an issue does occur,” Nickerson said.

The infamous “OBUStudent” wifi-network is not the final product of the new wireless network.

“The primary changes that are still coming have to do with how you will connect to the wireless network,” Nickerson said. “Once we are finished, a new wireless signal will be visible and students will connect using their email login and password to get access to the wireless and wired network.”

Students can expect to be notified a week in advance before the changes in accessing wifi will happen. After that, students can say good-bye to the sluggish network connections they have experienced with the current “OBUStudent” network.

“If they can figure out a way to deliver reliable and consistent internet service, that would make homework and what-not a lot easier, and I wouldn’t have to worry about it not working,” Bennett said.

The HelpDesk and Information Systems ask that student be patient as they resolve and improve the current wifi situation.

“We are working with our vendor to isolate and identify the cause for the speed issues that students are seeing,” Nickerson said. “This issue should be resolved very soon. [In the end,] I believe you’ll be pleased with the results.”