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Editorial: What are the ethics behind swiping and leaving chapel?

The new chapel swipe system has been a topic of conversation since the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, begging the question: is it okay for students to swipe and leave?

This question has been argued from both sides. Indiana Wesleyan University has had chapel as a requirement since its founding, more recently with the option to use up to six chapel skips a semester.

This is the first year the integrity of students has been in question in regards to chapel.

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Students face a decision every time they swipe into chapel.

Chapel, which is held at 10:05 a.m., allows students to swipe their ID for chapel credit from 9:45 to 10:15. Over three different chapel days, I stood between two doors and counted how many people swiped their ID and left between 9:50 and 10:05. Over the three observed days, an average of approximately 187 people swiped and left each day. Keep in mind, this number only includes a percentage of the students that left chapel because only two doors were involved in the observation.

So how does The Office of the Dean of the Chapel feel about the number of students choosing not to stay for the chapel services?

“We decided to go with the one-swipe [system] because we wanted to show that we trusted our students,” Dean of Chapel Jim Lo says. “We went to the administration and then on to the cabinet and I presented that I believe that most of our students really are trustworthy individuals, so we wanted to give them more freedom.”

The major point Lo is trying to make is that the one-swipe system was not put in place because it was easier, faster or cheaper. While all of these things might be true, the one-swipe system was put in place to grant the students more responsibility, trust and freedom. I think that, as a student body, we are so focused on the thrill of getting away with something, that we have chosen to throw away the newfound trust and responsibility we have been entrusted with by the university.

The argument on one side is that swiping and leaving is a lie. You are not correctly representing Christ because you are allowing someone to believe something that is not true.

“We are a Christ-centered university, therefore we should strive to be more like Christ.” Timothy Loney (fr) said. “By intentionally deciding to not be at chapel, and yet swiping into chapel, you are not living up to the call of this university and more importantly, the call of Christ.”

The counter argument is, “What if I have homework? Or a big test? Can’t I praise God through excellence in my school work?” This is a valid argument, but we must remember to be respectful of the speakers who have given up their time to come share God’s word, as well as the students who want to hear it.

“This is an integrity issue, I have spoken to guest speakers, the thing that distracts many of them is when they see the students getting up and walking out,” Lo said. “It’s been very painful for them to see that because a message is already being given.”

While swiping and leaving can be viewed as an integrity issue, we must remember that we are still one body in Christ, even though attending chapel is now a personal decision, that does not give us the right to judge those who chose not to attend.

“Those who choose to stay for chapel shouldn’t look down on those who choose not to go. Just because we have chosen not to go does not mean that we are less of a Christian than they are,” Hannah Guerin (so) says. “Those who look down on others for doing what only they think is wrong might be the ones who need to be at chapel the most.”

While the actual percentage of students leaving chapel services is relatively low, it is important to keep the issue of integrity at the forefront of our minds. Skipping chapel might give us a “thrill”, but while we are missing out on chapel, we just might be missing out on God.

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“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Review

The Indiana Wesleyan University Theatre Guild will be having its first performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” 7:30 this evening, Nov. 13. With IWU’s unique approach to this play, these Grecian lovers, bumbling laborers and mischievous fairies bring Shakespeare’s comedy to life in the school’s own own Phillippe Performing Arts Center.

The play begins outside the Black Box Theatre. In an ideal performance, the cast would perform this first part of the play in the main lobby of the PPAC, but on nights when the auditorium is being used, as on the evening I saw it, the beginning takes place in the hallway right outside the Black Box.

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Braden Hunt (sr) plays King Oberon and Sharla Ball (sr) plays Queen Titania.

With the audience standing, the bright lighting, the whirring of the drinking fountain and the green “Exit” signs and metal doors, it was difficult to suspend our belief and transport ourselves into Athens, Greece, when everything around us screamed “we are in a hallway.” The awkwardness of the unusual surroundings seemed to reflect in the actors as well, as they seemed slightly uncomfortable in the hallway setting. I can only hope that when it gets to be performed in their intended place of the main lobby that things come off a little bit better.

Right away, even in this awkward beginning part, Gloria Billingsley (fr) stood out in her character of Hermia. She was so delightfully animated that not even the glaring lighting or hum of the drinking fountain could upset her performance.

And boy did it put a smile on my face to see the next group of actors: Peter Quince and his band of “rude mechanicals,” as Puck refers to them. In the script, where some of the mechanicals with lesser lines seem to not be very distinct from one another, each of these characters had their own quirky mannerisms and personalities, which made them just so fun to watch.

Chelsea Haskett (so) especially stood out among them as Flute. With her knee-buckled walk and her tucked-in chin, she was the most amusing to watch. For such few lines, especially in the beginning, she really grabbed the audience’s attention.

Braden Hunt (sr), too, demanded our attention amidst the group of rude mechanicals, though his part was quite a bit more overt than Flute’s. As Bottom, Hunt was hilarious, boisterous and outrageous. With his wide movements and exaggerations of character, he also was a delight to see perform.

After about the first 30 minutes spent in the hallway, we moved to take our seats in the Black Box, or the “enchanted forest.” I was a little disappointed in the set, however, as it didn’t really look like an “enchanted forest” to me at all. There were no trees or plants to be seen. While the appearance wasn’t ideal, the actual design of the set was very unique and intricate.

The design of the set possessed some very cool features that allowed for fun, surprising touches, and very interesting and creative entrances, exits and interactions on stage. So while they used the design of the set very well and very creatively, it simply didn’t come off as an enchanted forest.

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Morgan Hause (fr) plays Puck.

The music didn’t help with that either, however, as it sounded more like African tribal music, more appropriate for “The Lion King” than an enchanted forest in Greece.

The actors portraying the fairies of this enchanted forest wore masks throughout the play, which was a great way to give them a more magical-like appearance and set their world apart from the humans’.

While I’m not sure about the use of masks in theatrical performances as a whole, since they cover up half of the face, which is a major tool for actors and a way in which the audience connects with them and sees their acting, the masks were well-done and the actors used them very well.

Puck, one of these masked beings, didn’t come off quite as I was expecting him to, seeming more like King Oberon’s creepy servant than the freewheeling, mischievous sprite that I thought him to be.

There was a 10-minute intermission before the last half hour of this two and a half hour long play. This last thirty minutes, which consisted of the play-within-a-play put on by the rude mechanicals, while fun, dragged on quite slowly.

The Theatre Guild did some really interesting, unique things with this play. As with any performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” it requires complex and intricate settings, costumes and carefully-crafted character interactions. And as with any Shakespearean play, it is no small feat to put on. The Theatre Guild and everyone who was involved in the play did a great job and really made it their own, a unique artistic creation to IWU that I recommend everyone see.

Showings are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13-15 and Nov. 20-22 and 2 p.m. Nov. 15 and 22 in the Black Box Theatre in the PPAC. Admission is $7 for students, $10 for IWU employees and senior citizens and $12 for adults.

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SGA Forum Discusses the Definition of Life

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article attributed to Fiebig the statements that some Christians believe in abortion rights, and that Fiebig is both pro-life and pro-abortion rights, paraphrasing direct quotes in which he actually said “pro-choice.” In fact, Fiebig said that he was equally pro-life and pro-choice. AP Style, the 61-year-old comprehensive reference manual for journalists, dictates that journalists use “anti-abortion” instead of “pro-life” and “pro-abortion rights” instead of “pro-abortion” or “pro-choice.” The Sojourn, in attempting to adhere to AP Style, regrets the mischaracterization of Fiebig’s views. 

“What are the unborn?”

This was the question of the evening at the Student Government Association’s forum discussion concerning “Life versus Choice” on Nov. 5.

SGA hosts monthly forum discussions to converse difficult issues the country as a whole encounters — this month’s concerning the morality or immorality of abortion.

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The panel discussed issues regarding abortion rights on Nov. 5.

The panel consisted of six individuals: Vice President for Academic Affairs for SGA David Priest (sr), Division of Communication and Theatre Chair Dr. Greg Fiebig, Students for Life Resource Coordinator Rachel Eldridge (sr), Life Training Institute Speaker Michael Spencer and Created Equal Director of Training Seth Drayer.

The discussion became heated when the question “what are the unborn” came around.

“If the unborn are not human, then pro-lifers are doing something horrible by taking away a woman’s choice,” Spencer said. “If the unborn are human, then we are facing the biggest holocaust known to man.”

Those on the pro-life side of the panel claimed that killing a person is a violation of human rights and the unborn are people; therefore, killing the unborn is a human rights violation. This argument states that personhood is obtained at the point of conception.

 Those believing in pro-choice claim a woman should have the right to chose whether to have an abortion because personhood is not obtained until he or she is born.

Each panel member sought the Bible for evidence as to when exactly an individual obtains personhood, yet neither side could biblically prove the time period of when a person obtains a soul or personhood.

“There’s kind of a mystery around what makes people people, and I think that when we look at Scripture, what we see kind of consistently is a complexity of how human beings are categorized,” Priest said. “We don’t really know what personhood is.”

Fiebig wanted people to be aware that there are Christians who are pro-choice.

“My perspective on pro-choice is rooted in my interpretation and understanding of Scripture, and I am not the only Christian who holds that view,” Fiebig said. “I am equally pro-life [and pro-choice], but that is my choice.”

Priest said the goal for the forum was to bring diversity in voices to our campus.

“While organizing this event, I found that there really isn’t any room for voices in this conversation [on campus], and many people were scared to voice their opinion because they felt like it wasn’t socially acceptable,” Priest said. “I wanted to bring about more diversity in the voices.”

SGA will hold its next forum discussion Dec. 3 on immigration issues.

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A tricky holiday

“As a Christian community, IWU is careful not to celebrate the pagan holiday called Halloween, with its emphasis on the occult, witches, the dead, ghosts, and rituals. For this reason students should avoid dressing in costumes or otherwise promoting Halloween during this time of year. Therefore, any event or activity on or near Halloween which may include costumes must be approved by Student Development in advance of the promotion and marketing of the event.”

This is Indiana Wesleyan University’s policy on Halloween as it appears in the Student Handbook. Any student who lives on campus, however, knows the rule is not so black and white. In the past, there has been some amount of freedom granted when it comes to this policy.

It is not uncommon to see students in costume around this time of year. Many decorate their dorm rooms and even McConn workers wear the occasional fairy wings and tiara as they work.

“In my opinion, the university has gone with the spirit of the law, rather than the letter,” said Vice President for Student Development Andrew Parker. “I think it’s important to remember the university is more looking at what’s the intent, what is it promoting, things like that.”

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McConn workers dressed up every day the week of Halloween despite the holiday’s controversial origins. Photo courtesy of Hannah Whelchel.

Parker said the policy is about not promoting things that go against the values of IWU, no matter what time of the year, but especially around Halloween because of its association with the occult.

“However, I don’t think the university has cracked down on that if a student is dressed up as a cowboy going to class,” Parker said. “I would hesitate to say it’s a hard-fast stance against costumes. That’s why the university allows for that [permission from student development] exception.”

When students tried to have a Halloween party in their town house in October 2012, Parker said Student Development was willing to work with them, as long as the kinds of costumes were monitored and the name “Halloween” was kept out of it.

The party did not happen, but this was because of policies besides the Halloween one.

Associate Vice President for Residence Life Bronson Pasko said that within ResLife, they try to use the university policy as the standard, but policies like this “will always be open to some interpretation.”

“Sometimes it can be hard. … This year half of our resident directors are new,” said Pasko in reference to informing new Resident Directors about all of the policies and expectations of the school.

He said ResLife tries to be consistent, but sometimes policies are treated differently in different dorms. These issues are dealt with as they come up.

“I would prefer to have something that allows us some space to have some discretion rather than something that has every single … [little] item that is allowed and isn’t,” said Pasko.

According to Parker, this is not a policy that has come up much in the past, and Student Development has not received many complaints from students. If students want to initiate conversations about the policy, Parker said he would be open to discuss it.

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