Bemidji Pioneer: ‘Striking’ up a connection: Student senates at BSU and NTC come together at Bemidji Bowl

BEMIDJI—This round of bowling was 12 years in the making.

The student senates for BSU and Northwest Technical College came together Thursday evening in hopes of connecting the student bodies at the two schools, separate but aligned since 2004. They met at Bemidji Bowl, about a dozen students, and talked business for about 20 minutes before wriggling into borrowed shoes.

“I think it’s time for us to get together,” said Caitlin McClellan, inclusivity committee chair at BSU. “We’re connected and we always have been, but with so many NTC students living on campus, we need to keep up strong communication and keep those lines open.”

She said she’s a pretty good bowler.

BSU and NTC share housing, meal plans, health services, clubs, campus activities and more. Administrators, whom the school also shares, say it’s the only configuration like it in the country: two separate campuses—with distinct missions—that have so much in common.

“We are in the same community,” said Holly Whitefeather, student vice president at NTC.

“We always talked about” getting together,” she said. “We just didn’t know how. This is a fun way to bond and have a conversation.”

They started with introductions around the table, then broke into a deeper conversation about what exactly they do, how each senate works, why it’s important to build a relationship.

“This is more of a kick-off for next fall,” said Shane Jensen, IT specialist at NTC. He said some students from each senate will graduate, but many will be back.

“It gives them a chance to develop relationships, to realize the world is bigger than their school,” Jensen said. “The challenge is figuring out what they can do to make a difference, what they can do together, where they can find common ground.”

Liban Ashkir, student president at NTC, said representatives from his school will start attending meetings of the BSU senate, and vice versa.

“We can interact more easily,” he said.

Ashkir didn’t know whether he was a good bowler. He said it was his first time.