President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said his heart breaks every Wednesday and Friday morning. As he looks out his office window before heading to the 10 a.m. chapel service, he sees students slip out the building’s side door after swiping their student ID cards to mark their attendance.
Because chapel services are part of experiencing life together on campus, Oliver and other administrators decided that all students—regardless of class standing—will be required to attend at least 14 services starting fall 2016. To discourage students from skipping out after swiping their cards, attendance will now be marked inside the chapel.
“Chapel involvement is an integral part of the overarching experience that a student has at Union,” said Todd Brady, vice president for university ministries. “It is the one time when the largest number of students, faculty and staff come together. Our desire is that as many students as possible take advantage of what is available in chapel.”
The reformed policy comes after much deliberation from the Office of Student Ministries. According to Brady, they aimed to stay true to Union’s mission and researched similar policies from other Christian schools.
Brady explained that as a Christian institution, Union is in constant pursuit of knowledge, which leads to worshiping God and ultimately to serving others. The department wishes for the Union community to continue to exemplify the university’s motto: to be united in spirit and grounded in truth.
So far the new policy is being met with mixed reactions from students.
“The policy is a bit frustrating considering chapel exemption for seniors has traditionally been viewed as senior privilege that will no longer be in effect,” said Kristi Hardester, junior social work major.
Senior year is a time to start focusing on transitioning into life after college, including finding a job or internship, and that allotted free hour can be valuable, Hardester said.
Nonetheless, other students welcome the changes.
“I think requiring seniors to attend chapel is fine,” said Garyn McIntyre, junior theater and French double major. “It is only 45 minutes twice a week and is something from which we can all benefit.”
The new policy is sure to be met with differing opinions from students across campus. For this reason, Brady invites any student with questions or concerns about the new policy to come by his office anytime for further explanation.
As of now, the only alteration to the policy pertains to senior involvement — all other aspects remain the same.
Chapel exemption forms will still be available for all students who fall under the set conditions such as participation in student teaching, nursing clinicals, full-time internships, study abroad or students who are only registered for Tuesday/Thursday classes.