Rhetorical Strike Team Alpha

ZachOlson, BaileyOberschmid, HelenHansen


Rhetorical appeals of the BSU website
Using Invention Methods for analysis

The BSU website is primarily designed to convince potential students to attend the university based upon the university's sound character as an institution. There are recurring uses of ethos as a way to persuade the viewer throughout the website, and we didn't find a page without appeals to ethos. The recurring "Be..." banner emphasizes characteristics that western society values and attatches them to the university by association.

The pages tend to establish a few main themes that illustrate the character of the university and show that it is a great place to "be...(insert any great value here)."

The main page is a perfect representation of the entire site. The text on the banner emphasizes values that lend credibility to the university, while the images tend to create an emotional connection between prospective students and the university. The students in the images are not individuals, they are a part of the university itself.

Throughout the website the theme of connection occurs again and again. The webpage establishes the connection BSU has with its students, the community around it, and the larger, global society it inhabits. The viewer is shown that BSU is a part of something larger than itself, and by joining it, they too can become part of something larger.

A few of the images use pathos, showing us scenes that stir emotion, but all of them still harken back to this idea that the university is a distinguished institution with strong values that are worth respecting.

Main University Values
BSU tries to show that the university connects with the outside world. The tab says "Be Aware" and the viewer asks, "Aware of what?" The text isn't directly related to this message. It speaks in generalities of "shedding light on the unknown" and pursuing "more than mere knowledge." The text seems to indicate a kind of academic, research attitude, however, the images of the windmills are instantly related in the viewer's mind to environmental awareness and alternative power. The links direct the viewer to pages expounding upon the university's use of green power. The aware tab's primary message is BSU is "Aware" of the environment outside of it and BSU tries to protect that environment.

The "Be Real" tab illustrates, mainly, BSU's connection with the community. The text explains that BSU has strong values (sincerity, steadfastness, authenticity) and a link between itself and the surrounding community. The links back this up by showing how BSU's students and programs work to foster community connection, development, and growth. The images, however, do not relate to this message. They are mostly academic, showing a teacher and student on one side and a shelf full of books on the other. These images have nothing to do with community. If anything, they suggest strong academics. One link uses logos to illustrate the strong effect that the university has on the community. This logical appeal strengthens the primary message: this university has good character. The link states that the university has a strong, positive, economic impact on the community and backs this statement up with figures illustrating the large ammount of revenue and the number of jobs the university brings into the local economy.

The global tab urges us to "Be Global." It emphasizes a connection with the world around us in terms of cultural awareness and bonding. The text speaks of mixing cultures and "shared human values of mutual respect and global awareness." In all these messages we are seeing values emphasized that establish the credibility of the University as a respectable institution that would be desirable to attend. This is definite use of ethos. The image of the Native American is a distinct symbol of cultures that are foreign to most western Europeans. By the text and images, the website extablishes Native and world cultures as those that are different from the majority of the student population. The links on this page then illustrate connections by going out to the main pages for organizations that deal directly with native culture (the AIRC) and world culture (the IPC).

Front Page

The large text on the front page (the "be..." phrases) appeal primarily to ethos, as they encourage the viewer to exhibit certain positive characteristics.

The nature images tend to appeal to pathos. They appeal to feelings of freedom, nature, adventure, and serenity.

There is little logos displayed on the front page.

The Tabs

The aware tab has more nature imagery. An appeal to pathos. The windmills could be an appeal to ethos as it is in some ways a societal duty to care for the environment, and the windmill is one symbol of responsible environmental stewardship.

The text is an appeal to pathos. Words and phrases like Eyes Open, Optimistic, and Engaged activate an emotional response in the reader. The last sentence could be an appeal to ethos. It represents BSU as a University that connects with the community and world in a responsible fashion.

The links on the right connect to articles elsewhere in the BSU website that show different ways in which BSU has been recognized for its environmental awareness and stewardship; a probable appeal to ethos.

The main text encourages us to "Be Real." Meaning, not false, or truthful? Does it encourage us to display honesty, integrity, and sincerity? These are some of the words that come to mind. The three single words at the top of the text are "Sincere, Steadfast, and Authentic." This is another appeal to ethos.

The text goes on to explain that the qualities we value in people are the same ones we value in institutions. That sentence is leading the reader to associate the positive characteristics already listed with the university. This sentence leads into another that establishes BSU's long history as a Minnesota institution. This is another appeal to ethos.

The image on the left of a student and teacher shows a bond between teachers and students, the work ethic of students at the university, and also the dedication of students. This is an appeal to pathos, designed to create a desire for a strong personal bond between teacher and student.

The image on the right of the books are quite dark. We're not sure its purpose beyond a place holder.

The links establish a connection between students and the community and all show how the campus contributes to the city of Bemidji. Students are portrayed as leaders and civil servents, and one article shows the positive economic impact the campus has on the community. These are appeals to both ethos and logos.

The image on the left
An appeal to: Pathos, Ethos(?)-in that it makes the university a credible proponent of diversity.

The text.
Be global, encourages us to connect with a global community? There is a startling ommission of the extensive study abroad programs BSU offers on this page. They would be a great addition to the message. BSU is portrayed as an institution that mixes native and world cultures with
they don't say with what, so we assume proabably Western European culture. It talks of shared values (mutual respect and global awareness) probably an appeal to ethos.

It continues to speak of "strengthening the bond between diverse cultures" and a "welcoming environment," as well as discovering and engaging "with the larger world." This is an appeal to pathos.

The links are different on this page from the others. The first is similar in that it connects to a BSU Today page that has a feature-style article on a visiting professor from China with an emotional family history of parents making sacrifices for their children. This is an appeal to pathos. The other links go to the homepages of two other campus offices, the ARIC, and the International Program Center. Why the difference?

Landing Pages

In general the landing pages have a bit of text and two photos that are mostly unrelated. The "Be.." banner is on each one as well with a different "Be" emphasized.

Messages of student achievement, community connection, and skilled faculty recur throughout.

The landing pages are all drawn out to attract students, faculty, and community (members?) towards what people who love BSU love best Each picture brings the viewer back to BSU's motto; The Lake, The Learning, The Life.

The landing pages are all drawn out to attract students, faculty, and community members towards what people love best about BSU. Each picture brings the viewer back to BSU's motto, The Lake, The Learning, The Life.

Campus Life
Alumni & Foundation
Four of the landing pages are laid out exactly the same. With a similar banner as the homepage across the top, a paragraph or two that uses language which definitly applies to pathos, links to the right of that which probably were meant to apply to ethos, and the latest news and a calendar towards the bottom of the page which may appeal to both pathos and ethos in that it shows about the great things BSU does, but also provides facts.

The Offices landing page has the same banner (pathos) and a similar, although shorter, paragraph which probably applies to pathos as well. This page does not have links on top, but just skips right to the "coming up" calendar. Below all of that is a long list of all the offices found within BSU (an A-Z list) this list appeals to ethos.

News & Info
News and Info is the "odd man out" as it is the only page we see without the banner. Instead it has a picture that stretches across the top. This picture changes when you refresh the page (4 different pics) an appeal to pathos. Recently, they have added a small version of the "March Matrix" calendar on the upper left portion of the page. The same news and updates are on the right as they are with all the pages except offices. There is a story below the March matrix poster talking about how Bemidji State has planned a six week event for women's history month, a definite appeal to ethos. On the bottom half of the page are news stories for various "activities" around campus, these appeal to ethos.

Overarching Themes

Trying to persuade us by portraying the positive character of the university: Ethos
Recurring themes: Environmentalism, Community Involvement, Global Awareness, Connection

--Note I agree with everything written about the landing pages. I did add some things to the News & Info landing heading and I thought a sentence in the third paragraph beneath the "Landing Pages" heading sounded a little off, so you can look at my note and see if you want to change it. Are we still going to wing it tomorrow or is there some sort of plan? Helen
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