Friday, August 29, 2014

Facebook official

Guest blog by Chay Reigle '15

Bluffton’s campus has seen its fair share of relationships; its acres have served as the spot for a first date that leads to many more. It’s been the location for numerous weddings during the summer months, most recently in late June for 2014 alumna Megan (Moreo ‘14) Etzkorn, who married the love of her life while standing atop a rock in the prayer labyrinth. And, building on the 100+ year legacy, I’m happy to say that Bluffton’s newest couple are two happy beavers.

J. Denny and Jenny Beaver, that is. Our newest mascot, Jenny, was officially welcomed to campus in a video reveal the day before classes began. I’m Chay Reigle, senior public relations major at Bluffton and creator of the video, and boy, what a wonderful time it was making Jenny a reality this summer.

To clear up any confusion: J. Denny and Jenny are not married, nor are they related. They’re both beavers, and so they go by the surname “Beaver.” They spent the summer enjoying campus. Whether J. Denny was driving Jenny around in a golf cart, Jenny was besting J. Denny at carpet ball in Bob’s Place, or the pair was reading a classic book on beavers in the Musselman Library, the two seemed all but inseparable these past few months.

As the summer student worker in the public relations office, it was my task to create the video from start to finish. That means writing the script, scheduling the time of shooting with two very busy performers, finding and scheduling the extras, filming every scene multiple times to get it right and then editing the video. It was filmed in one day over a six-hour period, stopping only for lunch and the occasional water break. 

Both performers maintained their roles throughout the entire day, and if I had the slightest clue of who were under the costumes, I’m sure they would tell me that walking around in a beaver suit on a hot, humid day is not fun.

That’s right: to this day I have no idea who any of the J. Denny or Jenny performers are. They communicated with me through thumbs-ups and pointing at their wrists to ask how long our break would be. Students not knowing the identities of the performers is part of the mascot mythos, and my performers were real troopers to take orders all day without a peep out of them.

While the image of J. Denny—and now Jenny—appears on the surface to be a product of the university, their livelihood absolutely depends on the students. Students are the ones who volunteer their time donning the beaver costumes. We are the ones who tag J. Denny and Jenny in Facebook posts, take selfies with them and high-five them at basketball games. In fact, every Bluffton University video featuring J. Denny has been produced by a student.

Creating this video was my favorite part of my summer job. I think Jenny is a great addition to the Bluffton identity, and I’m happy to see that J. Denny finally found someone. 

Next time you see them, take a moment to appreciate all the hard work that goes into creating the personas that staff, students and alumni alike have become so fond of when we reflect on our times at Bluffton.

>>> news release introducing Jenny

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