The dean of the chapel’s office is considering a new chapel makeup policy. If the proposal passes, students who skip more than six chapel services in a semester will have to enroll in a one-credit class instead of listening to sermons or doing community service, as the current policy requires.
Students would have to pay for the one-credit class, but whether students would pay for the full credit hour or a smaller fee is still unknown.
According to Dr. Jim Lo, dean of the chapel, the DOC office would rather have discussions and develop relationships with students than have them listen to sermons online.
“To me that is so impersonal, that if we can come along and help a person grow in their spirit because they can ask questions and dialogue with us, it’s a much better way to go,” said Lo.
The DOC has also found that many students cheat when doing chapel makeups.
For some students, said Lo, “All they’re doing is going around picking up someone else’s stuff that they’ve written, photocopying them, changing their names, and that is not benefiting anybody at all.”
The DOC is taking measures to make sure student opinion is being heard though SGA, according to Lo.
“The academic as well as the spiritual side of SGA need to be pulled in for some of these discussions,” said Lo.
Kiersten Beagan (so) represents the spiritual side as the director of ministries for SGA. Her position includes communicating with the DOC on behalf of the student body.
“As far as this goes, I feel like the student body would actually say, ‘I’m going to go to chapel,’ ” said Beagan, who believes that the proposed course may remedy excessive chapel skips.
Cindy Ruder, assistant to the dean of the chapel, said that if this course were implemented, there would hopefully be a decrease in the number of students who intentionally skip chapel more than six times, the permitted limit per semester.
“Many times students who are making a decision to miss chapel know it before they register for classes,” said Ruder.
“I think that’s just a case of rebellion,” said Kylee German (sr). “I feel like if you enrolled in this school, it was your choice, and you could’ve chosen not to come here – you knew coming here that chapel was a requirement.”
German also thinks, however, that the idea of having to pay for a course is a bit of a harsh punishment and that students may have a stronger incentive to go to chapel if more of the speakers “truly focused on spiritual growth” instead of topics such as “going green.”
“If they brought in more speakers who would motivate students spiritually, I think more students would want to go to chapel because it would be more like a Summit experience, and Summit isn’t required and a lot of students still go,” German said.
Jordan Wible (so) said he doesn’t really like the idea of students having to take a course and pay for it.
“I’m not a big fan of it,” said Wible. “Maybe they should do it just for people who have 10 or more skips, so if you do accidentally go one or two over, you’d still have to do the regular punishment.”
Wible said students who intentionally skip well beyond six “are probably the people who need to be in that class and are the more rebellious type anyway.”
The idea is still in the early stages of development, so no curriculum has been selected for the possible class.
“It’s still in the total investigation stage,” said Ruder. “Honestly, even if we get through a lot of the hoops we think we have to go through, and it’s really a viable option, I don’t even see that it could be something that could be implemented next year.”
Ruder said the process would probably take at least two years to complete if the DOC decides to implement the course, but no decisions have been made either way.
“We’re not even sure if we like the idea of it yet,” said Lo, who wants for students to have a more personal and positive outlook towards chapel, overall.
Beagan said she wants to fulfill her role with SGA by listening to students’ concerns over these issues and sharing those concerns with the DOC directly.
“My job is to bridge the students’ voice to the faculty and administration and make sure that both sides are seeing each other’s perspectives,” said Beagan.
“Our office really does not want to be mean,” said Lo, “even though there are some punitive repercussions if a student misses.”
If the DOC does make such a change to the chapel attendance policy, the primary hope is that not only will students follow the policy and stay within their six chapel skips, but that they will also come to have a more positive attitude and see chapel as an outlet for spiritual growth.