Whatever the latest buzz word you choose to use, everyone knows it’s always a good thing when you’re keeping college students busy and engaged.

Shana Meyer, vice president of Student Affairs, said several years of research have shown that there is a strong correlation between student involvement and student success, so her office staff understands the importance of busy, engaged students.

“We want our students to learn through hands-on experiences, inside and outside of the classroom,” she said. “They have the opportunity to learn about themselves through introductions to different ways of thinking, new experiences, and interactions with students and staff of varying backgrounds and heritages. University life is all about learning and growth, and much of that occurs outside the classroom.”

Even the name of those activities outside the classroom has changed over the years. Meyer said they used to be called extra-curricular, but now are called co-curricular because the activities work side-by-side with academics.

“Students who are involved on campus have higher rates of persistence and positive outcomes. We want our students to succeed, so we’re here to help provide opportunities that will help.”

And the choices for students to get involved at Missouri Western are as varied as the students themselves, she said. Two enduring activities since the University’s early days are the intramural program and faith-based organizations.

1981 Intramurals

Intramural fun
Although the term “intramurals” isn’t used in the 1920-21 Griffon Yearbook, a photo and article about the Sports Club for women sounds like what would be called an intramural program today. The article says that this is the second year for the organization, and 30 members were listed. The aim of the organization was “the encouragement of good healthy sports among the girls,” and activities included basketball, swimming, tennis and roller-skating.

Intramural mentions do appear in the Griffon yearbooks over the next several decades, including a 1935 entry that mentions ping-pong as the most popular winter sport and includes photos of intramural field hockey, tennis, basketball and shot put. A 1942 yearbook mentions the addition of track, touch football and swimming; and several yearbooks from the 1960s contain photos of men’s intramural basketball.

1989 Intramurals

In 1980, Faye Burchard was hired as the first full-time intramural coordinator for the College. Wonda Berry ’84, the Recreation Services Director today, said the program wasn’t very robust when Burchard started, but Burchard began to grow the program, both in offerings and participants. In fact, she began the intramural all-nighter, which continued into the 1990s. She also introduced beach volleyball, pillow polo and soccer on scooters. During Burchard’s tenure, many faculty and staff participated in the intramural sports, as well.

Berry, who was a pitcher for the softball team that was the national champion in 1982, was a work-study student in the intramural office under Burchard. “I told her if she ever left, I wanted her job. She told me, ‘Oh, Wonda, you don’t want this job,’” Berry said with a laugh.

But apparently, she really did, because Berry has been in the position since 1989. “This is where my heart is. I enjoy the college atmosphere,” she said.

Burchard left in 1988 and Ron Ferment was hired and worked at Missouri Western one

2005 Intramurals

year. Along with the usual intramural sports, he offered Mud Fest, volleyball in knee-deep mud; Monkey Golf, golfing nine holes with one club that was blindly picked; Mooshy Gooshy Marshmallow Mouth Stuff; and throwing a frozen turkey down a hallway to knock down plastic bowling pins (yes, a frozen turkey). The next year, Berry, who had been serving as assistant softball coach at Missouri Western, took the helm of the program and has been keeping students busy and active ever since (but without the frozen turkeys).

After all these years, she says flag football, basketball, volleyball and other team sports are still the most popular intramural activities, but she is always looking for different ideas to attract more participants. Two years ago, she added a gingerbread house-decorating contest, and it was a hit with both students and staff. Offerings have also included a pumpkin carving contest, pigskin picks, card tournaments and more. When the disc golf course was created in the 1990s, that was added to the intramural lineup.

“You want to keep everybody active. This gives them a social place to go and a break from their studies,” Berry said. “A lot of students are in athletics in high school, and this gives them a place to play and have fun.”

On the job for almost 30 years, Berry says she sometimes thinks about retiring. “But every time I think about it, a former student comes in and says, ‘I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. I can’t tell you what you mean to me.’” And thoughts of retirement go right out of her head. “I’ve met a lot of great people.”

Organizations with a side of faith
The first mention of a faith-based organization is in the 1949 Griffon Yearbook, where there is a group photo of members of the Baptist Student Union. A 1951 yearbook contains a photo of the Newman Club, but the 1956 yearbook notes that the Newman Club started on campus in 1946. Although information about the groups is sparse for several years, both started up again in the mid-1970s and have remained mainstays on campus ever since.

Throughout the school year, the Baptist Student Union and the Catholic Newman Center, both located in houses across from the main campus entrance on Mitchell Avenue, offer several weekly activities and fun events around holidays. For the BSU students, Baptist churches from a five-county area provide a weekly meal during the school year.

Sarah Aberer, president of the CNC, said their weekly men’s and women’s group meetings usually end around 8:30 p.m., but most of the participants stay and visit with each other until the center closes at midnight.

“The Newman Center has become my favorite place to be,” she said. “It has given me a place where I can build Christ-centered relationships. It’s my home away from home and I thank God for it every day.”

Adam Le said his friend encouraged him to join the BSU when he arrived on campus, and now he is a student leader for the group. “Having a community is cool; I didn’t have that before,” he said. “I like to be able to talk about my walk with Jesus and the struggles. I like being with people who are going through the same thing.”

“There’s a bit of comfort finding kids who you relate to on a spiritual level,” said Paul Damery, full-time director of the BSU for the past 13 years. “I like seeing students grow up in their faith and really take ownership of it.”

Leeds Haroldson has been the director of the CNC for eight years. “I hope the students continue growing as faithful and joyful disciples of Christ in order that they develop a greater love of God and neighbor,” he said. “As the students’ knowledge of other academic disciplines matures, so too we see it as important for the students to develop a mature understanding of God and their faith.”

At the Student Government Awards Banquet at the end of the spring semester, the CNC won two awards – most outstanding faith-based organization and most active organization. The group is perhaps best known for a project they started a decade ago – the Flex Food Drive. Every spring as the semester draws to a close, students across campus have the opportunity to donate unused dollars from their meal plan (flex) accounts, and the CNC purchases food from Aramark Campus Dining for the Second Harvest Community Food Bank. In 2018, the group raised $7,700, bringing their total raised over 10 years to more than $44,000.

Damery said the BSU members engage in community service through the churches they attend, but the group also volunteers on campus, from helping with move-in day for freshmen to working with GriffsGiveBack to host “Stacks with Max,” a pancake dinner to help raise money for Make a Wish Foundation.

“It’s a community and a group of friends who are all encouraging,” said Brad McClintick, a student leader at the BSU.

“Religion is a big part of my life. You need people who share your values, and here, you can be your authentic self,” Aberer said.

Meyer said that for Student Affairs, the goal is engagement on campus. “Campus involvement helps students attain their educational objectives while gaining the skills and competencies employers will want once that student graduates.”

Attention, BSU and CNC alumni! Want to reconnect? The current members want to hear from you:
Baptist Student Union: mowestbsu@gmail.com
Catholic Newman Center: saberer@missouriwestern.edu

Missouri Western has more than 60 student clubs and organizations on campus. Last spring, the Student Government Association announced its annual award winners for 2017-18:

  • Most Outstanding Academic & Departmental Organization: Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society
  • Most Outstanding Greek Fraternity: Alpha Phi Alpha
  • Most Outstanding Greek Sorority: Alpha Gamma Delta
  • Most Outstanding Special and Social Interest Organization: Student Athlete Advisory Committee
  • Most Outstanding Faith-based Organization: Catholic Newman Center
  • Glenn E. Marion Community Service Award: Phi Delta Theta
  • Most Active Organization: Catholic Newman Center
  • Spirit of the Griffon Award: Phi Delta Theta
  • Advisor of the Year: Cary Chevalier, Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society
  • Dean Hoff Outstanding Achievement Award, Freshman – Kourtney Chaney
  • Dean Hoff Outstanding Achievement Award, Sophomore – Cara Velazquez
  • Dean Hoff Outstanding Achievement Award, Junior – Hannah Gabriel
  • Dean Hoff Outstanding Achievement Award, Senior – Ashley Holoubek

Catholic Newman Center and Baptist Student Union Memories
Catholic Newman Center
I attended several events with the Catholic Newman Center while I attended Missouri Western 2000-01 as a junior. One of my fondest memories was trick-or-treating with all of the students, except that we collected canned goods/food for the food pantry instead of candy! It was a lot of fun and a great way to contribute back to the St. Joseph community.

Noelle Seufert

I was a member of the Newman Club throughout my years at MWSU. One of my fondest memories was shortly after I joined the club. I was a member of the Air National Guard and was deployed the Gulf War. I had previously attended Rockhurst University and had participated in the Appalachia Service project in which we volunteered in the Appalachia Mountains. When I started at MWSU and joined the Newman Club, I pitched the idea of a service project …  the club embraced it. Unfortunately I was called to duty and could not attend.
Throughout my deployment in the Middle East the club inundated me with letters and VCR coverage of the project. Even after they returned back home after the mission trip they sent letters and pictures to keep my spirt up. At a time when tensions were high, threat of biological war and the intensity of being in a foreign country at war, the pics and VCR tapes from the Newman Club gave me a sense of calmness and support.     

Rodney Hummer ’94

During the 1982 spring semester, I lived at the Newman Center, literally. There was no priest in residence so I stayed there for $50/month to watch the place. I had a very small bedroom in the back. At that time the living room was the chapel with folding chairs. The kitchen had a refrigerator and a toaster oven.  The congregation consisted of approximately 10 regulars and half a dozen occasional attendees. There was only one Mass on Sundays and occasionally there would be group meeting during the week. 
It was a good experience for me as I was broke, the rent was affordable, I could, and did, walk to class, saving gas money and was still able to practice my faith.
Jerome A. “Jerry” Stueve ’83

Baptist Student Union
I loved my time at the Baptist Student Union. For awhile we would host a mud volleyball tournament. People would form teams and have a blast playing. Great music, food and fun.
Donald Pierre ’14

Going to the Baptist student union and having a great dinner and a good time for 25 cents!  It was fun and great place for all of us dead broke college kids!  our thanks to the Union then and now!
Rita Gregory ’81

One of my fondest memories of Missouri Western was at the Baptist Student Union. A Friendly place for people to gather. I had a great time playing hearts (cards) with some people who invited us. We played until close to midnight and talked about all kinds of things.

I even got together with the same students numerous times after that. So glad someone invited me.

That same student invited us to a Christian concert in town, and that invite led me to my love for Christian music which is still strong to this day!

So many great memories!  Kind of lost track of everyone after a few years but the memories are still there!
Eric Faes ’02

I attended MWSU from 1986 to 1991. I lived in the dorms for two of those years, and the Baptist Student Union saved my skin during that time. I couldn’t attend church anymore because I had a job on the weekends, but needed it more than ever!

I used to go to the meeting the Baptist Student Union had. At that time, I believe I remember they had it at different places … different churches. It was nice to know that during those tough years, there was a group to which I could turn to for friendship and fellowship.

Jenine Williams ’91

I was an active member of the BSU all four years. In March of 1994, I attended a Mission Trip with the BSU to St. Louis where we worked with Compton Heights Baptist Church. We worked with children in low-income housing areas as well as visiting nursing homes in the area. The best part of the trip was becoming friends with Julie (Deaton) Davis ’97 while painting the top of a church bus. We have been friends from that day on. 

Taira Schertz ’96

The (BSU) building itself, located directly across the street from the main entrance of MWSU, holds almost as many memories on the outside as it does on the inside. We dug up a portion of the lawn and created a massive mud pit where we became unrecognizable Dirt People who practiced feats of strength such as tug-o-war and wrestling. We removed all the furniture in the house and brought it out onto the front lawn where we watched ‘Night of the Museum’ projected onto the side of the building as we grilled to celebrate the end of the school year. We created a 100 foot slip-and-slide down the hilly slope of the front lawn where we plummeted dangerously close towards Mitchell Avenue at great speeds atop an inflatable whale. It was here in a bounce house of all places where I met a Griffon who would become my future wife. Based upon these reflections of our outdoor activities, I am not sure what opinions passersby have formulated of the Baptist denomination; however, we had great memories and fellowship and I hope future Griffons can put down their screens and keep digging up that lawn.

Michael DeFelice ’08

When I started in 2001, I was attending everything I possibly could to be actively getting to know both new people and keep existing friendships going. Baptist Student Union was a great place for me where I had some familiarity with some people I already knew attending there, but also because it was a lot of fun meeting other people there that moved to St. Joseph to come to MWSU. I loved the gatherings that happened usually on Tuesday nights if I remember correctly, where we’d sing, listen and learn, and play games or watch movies together. It was great to just have a place to hang out from time to time as well. Thanks BSU for the great memory!

Adam Scheidegger ’05

Memories of College Days

When MoWest became a four year school, several other former scouts and I formed our chapter there of Alpha Phi Omega (a national service fraternity). I was already a life member of APO, so I became the pledge master. Over that first semester, I guided my pledges through gaining knowledge of our fraternity and learning the history of MoWest. When we were presented with our charter, the then-president of the Alpha Phi Omega home office in Kansas City came up to personally present us with our charter. 

I was a psychology major. We formed a Psychology Club, and I was appointed to head the activities. Our biggest achievement back then was to arranging a teleconference with the famous B.F. Skinner of Harvard University. Additionally, I arranged a trip to the famed Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. We had a tour of the clinics, then spent the day in the psychophysiology lab with Dr. Elmer Green. In addition, we took a trip to Unity Village for a daylong retreat on existential groups.

Dr. Ronald E. Hestand, RScP, ’71