Opportunities for Engagement

Bluffton University recognizes that the ideal education experience is one that addresses the need for the development of the whole person mind, soul and body. While academic instruction and study are the primary component of the student's education experience, that experience is incomplete without opportunities that support the academic program and students holistic development. Bluffton seeks to provide a wide variety of activities and organizations designed to develop all aspects of character and personal growth. Students are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to involve themselves in the life of the university through these co-curricular opportunities. 

Activity fee

The student activity fee is included in the comprehensive tuition fee and is allocated by Student Senate among the many co-curricular student organizations.


The office of student engagement is the student engagement function of Marbeck Center and is intended to facilitate and support opportunities for student involvement. The office of student engagement operates with the following mission and intended outcomes. The office of student engagement strives to enhance student learning through the integration of classroom experiences, ambition for engagement and exposure to diverse knowledge. By providing a centralized support system for student engagement opportunities ranging from programming and wellness to service and leadership development, the office of student engagement strives to facilitate meaningful and intentional student growth and development.

  • Students will establish a foundation of leadership skills that will be enhanced in their future endeavors.
  • Students will discover the significance of teamwork and collaboration among organizations.
  • Students will acquire the skills needed to synthesize information from various resources to develop creative and original ideas.
  • Students will understand and attain effective and meaningful organizational skills.
  • Students will endorse living and learning in a global community through the actions of service to others.
  • Students will embrace opportunities to develop, cultivate and support a culture that enhances the student experience and fosters an enduring connection to the university. 

Student Organizations, Activities & Groups

Leadership Resource Library

A small collection of books, binders, pamphlets and other materials compose the Leadership Resource Library. In addition to published works, the library also consists of internally-produced resources including a student organization guidebook and a series of short handouts on a variety of campus-related topics.
>>> Resource library  


Held at the start of each semester, these workshops are designed to assist and equip student organization leaders with knowledge and skills to better work with their student organizations and collaborate with others. Workshop attendance is required to be eligible for financial allocations. 
>>> Workshops

Engagement fair

Held in Marbeck Center during lunch on the first Wednesday of classes in fall semester, the Engagement Fair enables new and returning students to meet with campus group and organization leaders while signing up for more information about the various engagement opportunities on campus.  

Live Well weekends

A comprehensive weekend program series of activities, events, and engagement focusing on creating a vibrant campus culture, supporting students needs for engagement and enriching their overall Bluffton experience. Activities will be broad based in supporting social, mental, physical, and cultural wellbeing. They will involve collaborative efforts between, students, student organizations, faculty, staff and university departments. 


The office of student engagement provides coordination and advising for the student Homecoming committee. Committee members plan a series of student-focused events and activities for the week leading up to Homecoming in the fall semester and work closely with alumni relations to ensure a well-coordinated program.  

Beaver Tail-gating

Athletics is an important part of the academic experience at Bluffton University. Beaver Tail-Gating is one way for students to engage in fun, fellowship and the chance to meet new people while supporting our student-athletes on fall football Saturdays that are hosted at Bluffton.

Signature Events

These events occur at least once a month and are hosted by Marbeck Center Board in conjunction with other students groups and organizations and/or the Office of Engagement. Events include but are not limited to: Fall Festival, DamJam, Finals Breakfast, Winter WonderDam, Lip Sync Battles, Cabaret and the Riley Creek Festival/Bluffton 500 and Little Sib's Weekend. 

Feel Good Friday's

Feel Good Fridays is a series of events that happen on Fridays either in the morning or around the lunch time meant to specifically engage residential and commuter students in a way that contributes in a positive way to their well being and makes them feel good to celebrate the accomplishments of the week. Events include Kona Ice, Commons Takeover Game shows, Morning Prayer, a themed food cart once a month, etc.


Student Organizations

There are currently nearly 60 student organizations and activities that are listed as opportunities for involvement for Bluffton University students. These groups and activities can be categorized into three areas; student organizations, department activities and performance groups.

Student organizations

Student organizations are campus groups led by registered students and a faculty/staff advisor for the purpose of advancing a special interest through the entire campus community. Student organizations are eligible to receive annual funding allocations as determined by the Student Senate funding process. In order to be recognized, all student organizations must undergo the formal registration and approval process outlined in the Student Handbook. Proposed student organization expectations and criteria are listed in Criteria & Procedures for Active Student Organizations.


Department activities

Department activities are additional opportunities for student involvement in which administrative oversight and overall responsibility are provided by faculty and staff from campus departments. Department activities may function in a variety of forms ranging from ad hoc committees to recurring events. Events and programs planned by department activities should be open to the entire campus community. Department activities do not receive annual funding allocations from Student Senate, but may be eligible for spot funding at Senate's discretion.  

Campus ministries

Performance groups

Performance groups are artistic outreach activities intended to supplement student learning through performances open to the greater community. Because performance groups often represent Bluffton University to external constituencies, it is essential for campus departments to provide direction and administrative responsibility to student participants. Performance groups do not receive annual funding allocations from Student Senate.  


Criteria for student organizations

The following criteria are proposed for a student organization to be considered active and recognized.

  • Have an up-to-date constitution on file with the office of student engagement
  • Submit a list of officers or leaders and advisor for the current year by Oct. 1 with the office of student engagement
  • Complete transition document before the end of each academic year and submit to the office of student engagement
  • Have a faculty or staff advisor
  • Have membership open to all students
  • Have only registered students as members
  • Have a written mission or purpose statement
  • Contribute to the overall educational mission of the university
  • Support the university mission and be consistent with the values of the university and the Mennonite Church
  • Abide by university policies and expectations (This includes, but is not limited to, community of respect statement, campus standards, honor system, travel policy, dining service policy, etc.)
  • Sponsor at least one program per year that is open to the entire campus community
  • An officer and advisor of each student organizations must attend one workshop per semester
    • For existing student organizations, an officer and advisor will be required to attend a workshop at the beginning of the year as led by the office of student engagement in order to be eligible to request allocations from student senate. A second workshop will be held at the start of each spring semester. 
    • For new student organizations to be eligible to request allocations from student senate, an officer and an advisor must attend required initial training or an existing workshops as offered through the office of student engagement.
    • Attendees are only permitted to represent one group at the workshop


Privileges of student organizations

Officially recognized, active student organizations, department activities and performance groups receive certain university privileges. Note: Privileges apply only to the university group. Conferences, courses and retreats involving off-campus organizations are to be handled as a request from an outside organization through conference services in Marbeck Center.

  • Ability to reserve and use select facilities and services on campus
  • Ability to post information about your group and activities on designated campus bulletin boards and posting areas, on Channel 2, and the Jenzabar bulletin boards.
  • Ability to reserve and use table tents in the Commons of Marbeck Center
  • Ability to have stuffers delivered to campus mailboxes
  • Inclusion the Opportunities for Engagement section of the Student Handbook
  • Participation in the annual Engagement Fair
  • Opportunity to apply for funding from Student Senate
  • Receive a university student activity account for financial transactions


Procedures for starting a new organization

Bluffton supports the creation of new student organizations in meeting student needs and interests. The process for starting a new organization is outlined as follows:

  • New groups must complete the Student Organization Application Form  (Also available through office of student engagement)
  • Draft a constitution (operating procedures) that minimally should contain sections on the group's name, purpose, membership, officers/leadership and how they are chosen, and the advisor. 
  • Draft a statement on how organization meets a need not being met by another organization and contributes to the overall educational mission of the university
  • Describe how the organization will be financed (if applicable)
  • List the groups intended activities
  • Have at least five registered students interested in the organization
  • Have a faculty or staff advisor
  • Must be student led
  • Must be open to all students
Application process flow
  • Complete application form (Available through office of student engagement.)
  • Submit application and accompanying documents to the director of Marbeck Center (to ensure that application is in order)
  • Submit to Student Senate for approval (majority vote)
  • Senate submits to thevice president of student affairs and athleticsfor final approval by the student life department for final approval (majority vote)
  • Result reported to faculty and to director of student engagement

Emerging Student Organizations
There may be situations when students may wish to hold information meetings or events to initially gauge interest in a student organization prior to going through the official application process. Student organizers may request temporary Emerging Student Organization status from director of Marbeck Center. If granted, the temporary status is reported to the dean of students. This temporary status gives organizers permission to reserve and use select facilities and services on campus and to post information about the group and activities on designated campus bulletin boards and posting areas and on Channel 2. Temporary status will only be granted for up to 60 days. The designation as an Emerging Student Organization ceases once a decision has been made by the enrollment management and student life advisory committee in response to the application.  


Policies pertaining to student organizations

FundRaising for student organizations, classes and teams

The following is the Bluffton University policy on soliciting individuals, and businesses to be sponsors for events, items or for implementing a fundraising event. The purpose of this policy is to help give better direction on the best steps for fundraising and sponsorship success.

All fundraising and sponsorship requests will need approval from public relations and the advancement offices in consultation with  the director of student engagement and deputy  director of athletics.

  • The application form needs to be filled out by the group, signed by the advisor or coach and submitted for approval. Please estimate at least one week for the approval process.  The approval process will reference:
    • Timing and type of event – We do not want multiple groups soliciting and doing similar events during the same period of time.
    • Activity that is in line with university values and campus standards.
    • Charitable intent of the activity and what extra steps need to be taken.
    • Some events may require additional approval from the Vice President with oversight for the organization, class or team (athletics director), if the event involves liability issues or contractual agreements with vendors.  
  • The faculty/ staff advisor or team coach must sign the application.
    • Faculty/staff advisors and coaches are ultimately responsible to make sure the fundraiser follows best practices regarding money processing, contracts with vendors, brand standards use, product delivery and distribution, following campus code of conduct and community relations.
    • If you are applying on behalf an athletics team, you will also need to have James Grandey, deputy director of athletics, initial your application before it is submitted.

University values

  • Groups must follow all student life policies when organizing and implementing a fundraiser
  • University values and student life policies include, but are not limited to the following rules:
    • No alcohol
    • Nothing that can harm or injure someone
    • No gambling
      • Includes split-the-pot and “brackets”
      • No lottery
      • No games of chance
        Ex: Money is given with the intent of possibly winning more money back
    • In an effort to be good neighbors to our village residents, no door-to-door selling in the Village of Bluffton is permitted by Bluffton University students, faculty or staff.
      • To sell something in the village (on a street corner, in a parking lot, etc.) you must file for approval from the Bluffton Village Council. Prepare for this process to take a few weeks
  • In an effort to be good neighbors to our fellow students, no door-to door selling in the residence halls.  

Charitable intent
Charitable intent-donations are gift of more than $25, when a service or product is not given in return.  

  •  Donors may intend to receive a tax credit for their donation. If this is the case, the development staff on campus must process these contributions for proper documentation for the donor. During the review of the application, you will be alerted if you need to work with the director of development for the processing of your gifts.
  • Selling a product or providing a service = no charitable intent

A “sponsorship” is asking businesses for cash or items for donation to support your event. Examples include: cash gifts to help cover the costs of the event, items to use as giveaways, etc. Any gifts valued at $1,000 or more, will need to be secured through the development office. In an effort to be respectful of our local business community supporters, you will be asked to provide a list of the locations you plan to solicit. It is possible that locations on your list may not be eligible for you based on their previously negotiated sponsorships with Bluffton University.  

If you intend to negotiate the use of corporate logos and names as part of sponsorships, this needs to be clearly defined on your application request.

Bluffton University logo use

Contact the creative director in the public relations office when you need to use the logo for any reason

  • A brand standards guide will be available for reference
  • Any item being sold must be “on brand.” 
  • Exception to this rule: mementos for group (t-shirts, unless it is an apparel item that is being worn as a uniform.)
  •  Uniforms must be “on brand.”
  • Keep in mind it may take 6-8 weeks to have products or items developed, produced and delivered to campus. The PR staff can help you be in contact with approved campus vendors.

Campus facilities use
If you plan to use campus facilities for your event, you will need to make those space requests through the office of student engagement. When planning an event (run/walk; Cancer Day; festival; etc.) your event must be approved by the coordinator of student engagement. The approval of your fundraising/sponsorship application does not guarantee you the use and reservation of campus facilities, or the approval of a campus wide event.

Dining Services

Student organizations are required to use Bluffton Dining Services for all on-campus catering needs. Dining services provides items at a special reduced cost. Please contact the catering manager at 419-358-3455 for additional information. If your organization has a legitimate need to use on off-campus vendor for your catering needs, you may submit a request for permission from dining services.  

Off-campus travel policy (student activities)

Bluffton University recognizes the important role of off-campus travel for student groups and organizations. This policy establishes requirements and procedures regarding student travel using institutional funds and/or rental and University vehicles.

University Activities

Any travel activity using full or partial funding from Bluffton University student activities accounts is considered an official university activity and is subject to the guidelines listed below.

Trip Registration and Reporting

All student organizations and groups planning a trip must complete the Student Travel & Roster Form and submit it to the Marbeck Center Box 7 no later than one week before the planned departure date. Any updates to the roster must be submitted prior to departure. Organizations not submitting the Student Travel & Roster Form risk cancellation of their planned activity.

Advisor Attendance

In this policy, an advisor is defined as an official student organization advisor (faculty/staff member) as registered by the student life office. Advisors may designate an alternate faculty/staff member to serve in their place for the purposes of student travel.   An advisor or designee must accompany the traveling group when travel arrangements include any of the following:

  • use of university and/or rental vehicles
  • overnight stay away from campus
  • a group consisting of six or more students
  • travel outside a 150-mile radius of Bluffton, Ohio

Advisors are strongly encouraged to accompany the traveling group even when not required.

University & Rental Vehicles

When student travel includes the use of any university and/or rental vehicle, at least one advisor or designee must accompany and serve as a driver for the group.

Student Drivers

Student drivers of university and/or rental vehicles are permitted on trips needing multiple drivers. All student drivers must be age 21 or older and must complete a driving orientation by contacting Buildings & Grounds. See the van/bus rental agreement.

Van Reservations for Student Organizations

Student organizations wishing to reserve a university and/or rental vehicle may do so through their advisor. Advisors will work directly with the appropriate van agency to detail pick up and drop off arrangements. Students may not reserve university and/or rental vehicles on their own.

Appeals and Special Travel Considerations

Student organizations may be granted an exception to the travel policy by contacting the dean of students to discuss special travel considerations on a case-by-case basis.

Additional Guidelines
  • All university activity participants should be aware that all campus policies and expectations outlined in the Student Handbook must be observed while participating in the travel activity.
  • Those scheduling travel activities should arrange for departure and traveling times during daytime hours whenever possible. Overnight driving should be avoided.
  • All vehicles used in an activity may hold no more than one passenger per safety belt available in the vehicle. Vehicle drivers are responsible for assuring that all passengers are wearing safety belts while inside the vehicle.
  • University and/or rental vehicles are for official business only; personal use is not permitted.

Travel Policy Approved by Cabinet June 4, 2008