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.”