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6 of 6 Stories

Stalwarts to the North
Minnesota's Bemidji State University

M. James Bensen, who attended Bemidji State as an undergraduate, is now the university's president.
M. James Bensen, who attended Bemidji State as an undergraduate, is now the university's president. In addition to 4,000 resident students, Bemidji offers "distance learning"classes to students throughout the Northern Minnesota Iron Range.
The four thousand students, 365 faculty members and 200 staff personnel of Bemidji State University, in northern Minnesota, are hardy souls. Winter temperatures sometimes drop to 20 degrees below zero, with a wind-chill factor well below that. After parking on frozen Lake Bemidji, students enter a web of underground tunnels that connect all campus buildings. Ice fishing is popular and so is hockey -- Bemidji State has won 13 national championships at various collegiate levels.

M. James Bensen, who attended Bemidji State as an undergraduate and has been the university's president for five years, said too much is made of Bemidji's frigid temperatures. "We'll get a few days when it gets down to 20 or 30 below -- pretty extreme, but not too many of those. And we're pretty much used to it. Where they’d be calling off school in Indiana or one of those states down there, up here we're ready to go half an hour after the blizzard stops."

Chuck Anderson drills through frozen Lake Bemidji as he prepares for a day of ice fishing.
Chuck Anderson drills through frozen Lake Bemidji as he prepares for a day of ice fishing.
Students Lisa Newman (left) and Missy Bakker show off their snowshoes, a sartorial must at Bemidji State.
Students Lisa Newman (left) and Missy Bakker show off their snowshoes, a sartorial must at Bemidji State.
   

In winter, the stadium is more suitable for cross-country skiing than for football, as student Kevin Morrissey discovers.
In winter, the stadium is more suitable for cross-country skiing than for football, as student Kevin Morrissey discovers.

   
Amy Stiller emerges from a snow cave she has dug as part of a course titled "Camping Trends and Techniques: Winter Camping."
Moving through a series of underground tunnels and covered skyways, Bemidji State  students seldom face the biting cold of temperatures that sometimes drop to 20 below zero.
Moving through a series of underground tunnels and covered skyways, Bemidji State students seldom face the biting cold of temperatures that sometimes drop to 20 below zero.

Photos by Steve Woit for CrossTalk

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