Posted on 23 January 2014.
Thinking about skipping chapel? Second semester seniors at Indiana Wesleyan University do not face a penalty for missing more than the six allotted chapel skips. The only seniors who could run into trouble are those in leadership positions or students considering IWU’s grad school.
Micah Walls (alumnus ‘13) discovered this after missing multiple chapels toward the end of his final semester, but still receiving his diploma following graduation last spring.
Assistant Dean of the Chapel Cindy Ruder supervises student chapel attendants and student office workers in the chapel. She also makes sure students follow the attendance policies and procedures.
According to Ruder, the Registrar does not withhold student transcripts following the student’s final semester for missing chapel.
“As long as chapel is not completed for academic credit, such as making it a pass/fail course, we do not hold on to the students transcripts,” said Ruder. “The policy is primarily in place for students only interested in returning to the university.”
Ruder said she does send an email to students notifying them they have a hold on their account, even if they graduated. The email also informs students not making up missed chapels could affect them getting into the school’s graduate program.
While students may not plan to get their masters degree at IWU, they should still be cautious. For Walls, he didn’t anticipate attending IWU’s graduate program until after graduation. Following his application to seminary, Walls was notified he would have to make-up the chapels he failed to attend.
“Don’t skip chapel,” Walls said. “I really respect it, I just got lazy my last semester, and almost a year later I have to make them up.”
In a Facebook status, Walls joked about being able to potentially pay off chapel skips. When presented with this alternative suggestion Ruder was quick to turn it down by saying, “No, there is not a monetary option attached to chapel.”
Some Christian colleges such as Anderson University and Biola University have stricter policies than IWU, and issue fines to students who don’t follow chapel restrictions.
At Anderson, multiple chapel offenses can lead to students paying fines ranging from $75 for minor offenses to $150 for extreme offenses per semester.
What’s unique about Biola, is they do not require seniors to attend chapel their final semester. All other students, however, could receive a hefty fine of $375 if they don’t attend 30 chapels or meet make-up requirements.
At Huntington University, students are required to attend only 30 chapel services out of about 75 opportunities per semester. For seniors who fail to reach that mark, they are still able to walk at graduation, but the school will not release their diploma until they either pay a $150 fine or complete community service hours.
If an IWU student misses more than the six allotted skips, they must complete chapel “make-ups.” What students may not know is they can be penalized for missing too much chapel. First time offenses typically result in registration and housing holds for the following semester. After the fourth offense however, exceeding chapel absences can ultimately lead to dismissal from the university.
Students who fail to meet chapel attendance standards meet with Ruder to discuss ways the student can fulfill their chapel requirements.
“The policy is, you can do up to 50 percent of chapel make ups through community service,” Ruder said. “The other half you can do through listening to chapel recordings, or you can do all of them through chapel recordings, it’s really the student’s choice.”
Seniors who hold leadership positions on campus will risk termination depending on the contracts of the organization they are associated with if missing excessive chapels.
Ruder will still send an email to the academic advisers notifying them of the situation, but if the student is not intending to attend graduate school at IWU, he will receive his diploma following graduation.
For seniors interested in working at the university following graduation, Human Resources does not pay attention to the number of chapels skipped.
Human Resource Associate Diana Delph explained how she views the hiring process.
“Missing chapel is not a criminal offense,” she said. “That’s not something we follow up on when considering candidates from the university, that’s between you and the Lord.”
Ruder hopes seniors have come to appreciate chapel during their duration at the university, and also hope they take advantage of the multiple opportunities they have to worship.
“My prayer is that as students grow through chapel their freshman, sophomore and junior year, by their senior year they will appreciate what chapel has to offer,” Ruder said.
“Unless you’re going into ministry, you will quickly learn that the secular workplace doesn’t offer chapel,” Ruder stated. “Hopefully students will keep that in mind.”