Co-curricular Programs

The Bluffton University ideal of education recognizes the need for developing the whole person mind, soul and body. While giving primary emphasis to learning through study and instruction, Bluffton provides a wide variety of activities and organizations designed to develop all aspects of character and personality. Students are encouraged to select carefully among these co-curricular activities and to participate in as many as interest and time permit.

Campus government

A democratic atmosphere prevails in the Bluffton University campus community. This is illustrated by the campus government, jointly shared by administration, faculty and students. The guiding policies of the university are established by the board of trustees with administration and faculty responsible for carrying out these policies while sharing in campus government with elected student representatives.

Student Senate
Composed of 17 members, the senate has primary responsibility in the areas of co-curricular activities. It also serves as the official voice for students. The senate consists of four members from each class and the president.

Hall associations
The residents of each hall are organized into hall associations for purposes of self-government and social activities.

University publications

Bluffton, the university magazine, is published four times a year by the university to keep alumni and friends informed about campus and alumni affairs. It is distributed free.
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Community Connection, News for Bluffton Faculty and Staff, is a weekly e-newsletter designed to be the place for faculty and staff to find administrative announcements, campus news and updates. The Community Connection is a publication of the public relations office.

The Bluffton University Catalog, presents information on university policies, academic programs, course descriptions, academic policies, faculty, admissions, financial concerns and general information about the university. is a student-driven media source fueled by broadcasting & journalism students and others.The Witmarsum, named for the town in the Netherlands where Menno Simons was born, had been the campus news source since its first print publication in 1914. For most of its life, The Witmarsum appeared as a newspaper. In 2010, The Witmarsum converged with WBWH (the campus radio station) to produce our new site,  features coverage of campus events as well as live streaming of WBWH programming.
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The Shalith  is a yearly literary magazine sponsored by the English and language department and produced by a committee of students and a faculty advisor. Since 1962 The Shalith  has published writing and art work by Bluffton students, faculty and staff in a variety of formats. For decades those associated with the magazine believed that "Shalith" to be an Egyptian word meaning creative fertility, but recent research has shown this is not so, and the origins of the term are shrouded in mystery.

Student Handbook, published each summer by the student life office, gives an outline of all campus organizations, activities and regulations for the benefit of new and continuing students as well as faculty and staff.

Directories of Faculty, Staff and Students are published online in the fall by the university. They provide an official roster of students, faculty and staff.

Spiritual Life  

Spiritual life at Bluffton is rooted in a Mennonite understanding of faith with a focus to live like Jesus in all areas of life, empowered by the Holy Spirit to love and serve all people, to worship joyfully and to live with hope. We also value the diversity of faith traditions represented on our campus, and seek to shape worship and ministries in ways that are welcoming and meaningful to all students regardless of their background.  
Our Campus Ministries (religious life) department encourages students to grow as followers of Jesus by providing various opportunities for spiritual growth in the context of a supportive, caring community. All of our ministries are student-led, allowing students to discover and use their gifts to serve the community and at the same time develop valuable leadership skills. 
Worship and ministry opportunities:
Hall chaplains are upperclassmen who live in the residence halls and serve as a support to their fellow students. Hall chaplains provide peer counseling, lead Bible studies and promote spiritual life activities on campus. They also seek to help new students make the transition to college life and get oriented to life and activities on campus. There are 16 hall chaplains serving throughout campus, and they are selected through an interview process in the spring for the following year.
Chapel services are held on Thursdays at 11 a.m. in Yoder Recital Hall. While chapel attendance is not required, it is a privilege and a blessing to be able to worship together as a campus community. Bluffton faculty and staff as well as outside guests serve as speakers at chapel services, and the music incorporates both hymns and contemporary praise and worship. A student-led chapel planning committee meets weekly to plan and evaluate chapel services.
Sunday Night Worship takes place every other Sunday night at 8:30 pm in Yoder Recital Hall. These services tend to have a more contemporary flavor, and speakers at Sunday Night Worship are usually students. Occasionally, hymns sings are held on Sunday nights.
For both Chapel and Sunday Night Worship, students provide leadership through worship leading, scripture reading and serving on the worship band, worship dance team and drama team. 
Students are also encouraged to get involved with a local church of their choice. A directory of churches, along with their meeting times and other information is available through in the Campus Ministries office, 2nd Floor Hirschler Hall, through the Hall Chaplains or online.  
SERVE is a service-oriented group which promotes missions and service opportunities for students off-campus in the local area and beyond. The group often organizes a week-long service trip during spring break. Special on-campus mission awareness days and acts of service to the campus community are also planned and carried out.
Fellowships of Christian Athletes (FCA) is an organization that seeks to discover what it means to integrate Christian faith into life on and off of the athletic field. Bluffton s FCA group is made up of athletes as well as those who are not currently on a team but who enjoy sports. FCA meets weekly for Bible study and also sponsors activities at sporting events, organizes events such as corn-hole tournaments and ski trips, and provides opportunities for service to the campus and community.  
One week each semester is designated as Spiritual Life Week. A student-led committee chooses a theme and plans various activities during the week, including special worship services, games, discussions and service days. Each Spiritual Life Week features a guest speaker who challenges and inspires students through sharing insights related to the week's theme.  
Shining Through Ministry Team is a group of 20 students who lead worship services in churches and occasionally in schools and prisons. Students give witness to their faith in Christ through music, drama and personal testimony
Service Opportunities:  Information about long- or short-term voluntary service opportunities, as well as summer camp positions, is available from the campus pastor. Each year service and mission emphasis days are held to acquaint students with church agencies that provide a variety of domestic and overseas opportunities. Short-term service opportunities are also organized through SERVE (see above) and other student organizations during spring break and other times throughout the year.

Musical activities

Bluffton University has a long tradition of excellence in music. It is known for its vocal and instrumental organizations and the high quality of these programs. Each organization is under the direction of a music faculty member.

University Chorale is a large mixed ensemble focused on diverse repertoire including global, contemporary and traditional sacred and secular music. This group participates in both on- and off-campus performances and special events and is open to all students. Conscientious rehearsal and performance attendance is expected to maintain membership.

Camerata Singers is a select choir of 32 voices that performs primarily sacred music both on and off campus. Camerata Singers travel extensively to churches throughout the school year and make an extended tour during spring break.

Chamber Music. Small vocal and instrumental ensembles are formed each year, based on student interest and ability. Recent ensembles include String Ensemble, Harp Ensemble, Men's Quartet, Trumpet Trio and Saxophone Quartet.

Concert Band performs both traditional and contemporary band literature in concerts both on and off campus each year. Membership is open to any campus or community instrumentalist.

The Jazz Ensemble studies and performs music in various contemporary popular idioms, including improvisatory styles. Membership is by audition.

Gospel Choir, open to all in the Bluffton community, performs a wide variety of gospel music and spirituals in several on-campus performances per year.

Choral Society is a university-community chorus that annually present portions of Handel s Messiah in December and another oratorio/cantata work in March. Membership is open to all students and community members.

The music department has regular recitals in which students studying applied music perform. An honors recital is held at the end of the school year featuring selected outstanding music students. Faculty members present a recital each year and music majors present a full-length senior recital as well as a shorter recital in their junior year.
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The Lima Symphony Orchestra provides opportunity for qualified instrumentalists to perform in an orchestra. Membership is by audition.

The Bluffton University Artist Series brings to campus each year a number of outstanding concert artists and ensemble groups.
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Musical. Each year the communication and theatre department and music department present a musical or opera. Participants are chosen by audition. The musical production is presented each spring as part of May Day activities.

Communication and theatre activities

Theatre. Each year the communication and theatre department presents at least one major dramatic production and, in conjunction with the music department, one musical. All students are eligible to audition for the casts and/or serve in various technical capacities in these productions.
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See also or WBWH radio station

Departmental clubs

Bluffton University has a number of departmental clubs that offer students opportunities for study and fellowship in areas of specialized interest.

Bluffton Education Organization seeks to develop in prospective educators an understanding of the education profession, to advance the interests and welfare of students preparing for a career in education and to stimulate the highest ideals of professional ethics, standards and attitudes. There are both formal and informal meetings in which students share ideas and concerns.

Bluffton University Art Club seeks to provide students with an opportunity to engage in academic discussions and participate in activities concerning the broad range of topics pertaining to the visual arts outside of the normal sphere of classes.

Bluffton University Bauman Medical Society enables students interested in health related vocations to experience and investigate different aspects of the field of medicine and prepare themselves in the best way possible to be candidates for a career in a health related field.

Bluffton University Economics, Business Administration and Accounting Club provides its members the opportunity to gain broader perspectives and insights into the business field. This is accomplished through club meetings and gatherings where business-related issues are discussed.

Bluffton University English Club offers students a chance to gather for camaraderie and informal discussions about all types of literature. The club sponsors activities pertaining to a broad range of productions and dinners with faculty and students.

Bluffton University Recreation Club was formed to provide opportunities to gain broader perspectives and insights into the recreation field. Meetings include activities such as speakers, social events, field trips, community events and information about graduate school and job opportunities. This organization also encourages spiritual fellowship among recreation students and their instructors as well as the entire school.

Bluffton University Science Club's purpose is to provide organization and support of science related interests outside of regular courses.  The club also provides an informal forum for further exploring current issues related to the natural sciences.

Bluffton University Sport Management Club is a student-led group made up mainly of sport management majors. Its purpose is to provide information about internship possibilities, both at Bluffton and at other colleges and professional organizations, as well as to plan and participate in trips and various activities.

Bluffton University Student Investment Club is open to any Bluffton University student who is interested in learning how financial markets work. Students get hands on experience in learning about investments through the club's management of one of Bluffton's endowment funds.

El Club de EspaÑol's purpose is to expose the club members to various Spanish speaking cultures and to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the Spanish culture and language by integrating the Spanish culture into their lives.  The club works to bring the organization to the community through various service projects and to enhance the student body perspective of the Hispanic/Spanish culture with opportunities in which they will experience part of the culture first or second hand.

Bluffton University Nutrition Association (BunA) is designed to provide professional development and service activities for students majoring in food and nutrition. Programming focuses on current issues and trends and includes state- and district-level meetings.

Ohio Collegiate Music Education Association (OCMEA) is an organization of students preparing to teach public school music as well as those majoring in music with a liberal arts emphasis. Monthly meetings include programs by teachers in the field. It is affiliated with the Ohio Music Education Association and the Music Educators National Conference. Members of OCMEA attend conventions and conferences of these state and national organizations in addition to local chapter activities.

People's Movement for the Advancement of History (PMAH), AKA the history club, came together for students to explore their mutual interests in studying and talking history. Through various activities attending films, lectures, social events and history-related games and parties at the homes of history faculty PMAH students at Bluffton deepen their own fascination with the human experience in history and together reinforce their conviction that studying history is one of the most intellectually enriching possible pursuits on a college campus. 

Social Sciences Society's purpose is to examine and create interest relating to social issues and concerns.  In addition, the purpose is to explore the meaning of justice in the broadest definition and societal context.  Members consist of those interested in issues raised by the fields of criminal justice, sociology, pre-law or psychology.

Social Work Club is composed of students interested in the profession of social work and related fields. The club's purpose is to provide students with opportunities to affiliate with other social work students and other professional social workers and to build an identity with the profession. Objectives are met through activities geared to learning, service and socialization. Programming generally includes contacts with professionals through speakers, agency visits, videos/films, local/state/national conferences, service projects and social events.

Special interest organizations

Specialized interests bring students together in the following organizations:

The African-American Student Organization (AASO) is established to provide a socialization forum and to promote and share African-American culture with the Bluffton community through various cultural programs.

The Bluffton Latino Society emphasizes Hispanic tradition, culture, art, education, music, theater, literature, food, history, language, etc. and allows Hispanic students a chance to unify and reconnect to their culture through the exploration of Hispanic foods, language, the arts, dance, music, dress and history.

Bluffton University College Republicans increase awareness and promote the principles of the Republican Party, aid in the election of Republican candidates at all levels of government and develop political skills and leadership abilities among Republican students as preparation for future service to the party and community.

Bluffton University Chapter of Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical grass-roots organization with the goal of eliminating poverty housing. The Bluffton University Chapter of Habitat for Humanity coordinates work groups and fund-raising efforts to help build or renovate houses in partnership with those in need. All students, faculty and staff are welcome to participate.

Bluffton University International Connection draws together students from other lands and American students interested in foreign cultures. It sponsors programs and activities, including the annual international students' week.

Bluffton University Japanese Anime Club. The purpose of this organization is to enrich the campus community by offering students the opportunity to learn about Eastern culture through films and DVDs which portray the unique religion, myths, art, history, etc. of the Japanese culture.

Bluffton University Macintosh Users Club represents the interest of Bluffton University students, staff, administration and faculty by providing an organization through which interests may be voiced regarding use of the Macintosh platform within the Bluffton University framework.

Bluffton University Student Alumni Association representatives are committed to strengthening relationships between current students, alumni and the university and developing an awareness of the importance of supporting Bluffton University and preserving its traditions.

Bluffton University Ultimate Frisbee. The purpose of this club is to provide for those individuals who wish to have fun and fellowship, yet play competitively, with peers at Bluffton as well as other schools.

Bluffton University Women's Issues Circle. The purpose of this group is to discuss any issues of particular concern to women and to initiate activism on these issues. Activism can take the form of raising students' awareness of women's issues or seeking to improve conditions of women on the Bluffton campus or in any other setting. It is our intention to provide the student body with information on women's issues and opportunities to discuss these issues, as well as to work towards the betterment of women's lives by creating greater awareness of the specific burdens society has placed upon women. Researching, discussing and creating awareness of medical, legal, religious and other cultural issues are within the domain of this group.

Bluffton University Young Democrats. The purpose of the Bluffton University Young Democrats will be to pursue the ideals of liberty, justice and freedom for all. The pursuit of these ideas is through support of the Democratic Party and its ideas, ideals and candidates.

P.E.A.C.E. stands for Peace Education and Action Community Endeavor. The organization's purposes are to educate students about current peace-related issues and to encourage and organize appropriate action in response to these issues through consciousness-raising endeavors.

Peer Awareness Leaders (PALS) is a group of students who work to educate the campus community about prevalent issues affecting university students so students may make responsible decisions.  The group is an affiliate of the BACCHUS and GAMMA Peer Education Network and is an extension of the Bluffton student life office and consists of student volunteers who apply for membership.

Radio station (WBWH), Radio on Bluffton University's campus has been around since at least 1957. Formerly known as WBCR and WBUF, the radio station has seen numerous transitions. Today WBWH 96.1 FM features jazz and alternative music, and covers Bluffton University sports as well as many Arts and Lectures events. In 2010, the combined work of WBWH and The Witmarsum (the online campus news source) generated a new site, is a student-driven media source fueled by broadcasting & journalism students and others.

Forum. Meeting each Tuesday throughout the academic year, Forum is a weekly event in which the entire university community-students, faculty and staff-comes together to hear presentations and programs that deal with important themes and issues of the day. The majority of speakers are from outside of Bluffton. They range across the academic disciplines and are chosen because of their expertise in an area of significance for the university curriculum.

Special forums, such as the C. Henry Smith Lecture and the Keeney Peace Lecture, enable the articulation of heritage values central to Bluffton. Programming is determined by the forum director, in consultation with a committee of faculty and students. Forum events are among those events that qualify for arts and lecture credit.


Intercollegiate athletics are an exciting and vital part of life at Bluffton University. Men's intercollegiate athletic schedules are maintained in football, basketball, track and field, indoor track and field, cross-country, baseball, tennis and soccer. Sports for women include volleyball, tennis, basketball, track and field, cross-country, fast-pitch softball, soccer and indoor track and field.

To be eligible for intercollegiate athletics, the student must meet the requirements of the NCAA Division III. To be eligible for competition, a student must be enrolled in at least 12 semester hours during the term in which he/she participates and be making normal progress toward graduation. For more details see the director of athletics.

Academic credit for participating in varsity athletics:
Each varsity athlete and student support personnel (trainers, managers and student assistant coaches) is eligible to receive one academic credit per academic year for participating in collegiate athletics with a maximum number of 4 total credits during their athletic career.  Two-sport athletes may only receive credit for one sport each academic year. Credit is credit/no credit.  Credit must be assigned during the traditional season of each sport.  In the event that any sport (for example basketball) goes through two semesters, students may elect which semester to receive the credit.  Student athletes can earn this one hour credit each year by the following means:

  • Completing the entire sporting season by attending practices, meetings, competition and year end banquet.
  • If an athlete becomes injured during the season, he or she must continue to attend practices, meetings, competition (as required by the head coach) and year end banquet to be eligible for credit.

Intramurals. The intramural program is under the direction of the health, fitness and sports science department. Two directors head this program and student assistants help in its coordination. The intramural program contributes to the health and fitness of the participants and provides diversion from academic work. This program provides the opportunity for making participation in sports a meaningful part of a student s total education.

Activities included in the intramural program are flag football, powderpuff football, volleyball, 3 on 3 basketball, 5 on 5 basketball, bowling, softball and coed tournaments in various sports. For more information students should check the Handbook of Intramural Sports available from the intramural directors.
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Marbeck Center

Marbeck Center serves as the social, recreational, informational and community center of the campus. The center houses campus dining facilities, a snack shop, lounges, bookstore, post office, information services, meeting rooms, student activity services, student organization offices, art gallery, an ATM machine, stamp machine, copy and duplicating services, lost and found, a computer lab with e-mail and Internet access along with a variety of other facilities.

Marbeck Center is used for cultural programming for students, faculty, staff and guests of the university, and it serves as a home base for personal involvement in and commitment to the life of the university.

While the basic function of the center is to meet the needs of the campus community, Marbeck Center also serves an important role as a meeting place for civic, community and religious groups.
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Marbeck Center Board (MCB), a student board, is responsible for initiating and implementing a program of activities and involvement for the enrichment of student life on campus. MCB is composed of a student chairperson, students selected from the student body and a staff advisor.

Student Organizations United in Leadership (SOUL) is a program intended to facilitate and support opportunities for student involvement. In addition to hosting the annual spring Riley Creek Festival, and sponsoring American Red Cross bloodmobiles, SOUL also supports leadership workshops, a weekly program series and an annual banquet recognizing outstanding student involvement.

Marbeck Center is a member of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI).

August 2014