By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
In a standing-room-only auditorium, the formulators of day-to-day Chapel policy met with more than 100 students to explain various Chapel decisions made since August.
Brad Carter, director of Chapel programming, and Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life, presented facts, figures and data to the Students’ Association Congress to show the process they took in determining the setup of this year’s Chapel. However, discussion of the Chapel five-year plan was held to generalities, neither administrator delving into its specifics.
“If I were naming a five-year plan, I’d name it a five-year idea,” Carter said. “They’re not a plan; they’re not a proposal.”
Some Congress members were surprised by the direction of the presentation.
“I was expecting a little bit more of a fiery presentation,” said Sen. Shep Strong, junior class, and executive presidential candidate. “I was expecting the administration to lay out more of a five-year plan: ‘This is where we want to be; this is where we’re going.'”
Instead, Carter and Barnard played down the significance of the five-year plan during the meeting-Carter by describing the various steps and revisions it goes through before reaching the President’s Cabinet, Barnard by pointing to the responsibilities of the Chapel Task Force.
“The five-year plan is almost a moot point,” Barnard said. “All that’s off the table.”
However, parts of the five-year plan-including a grade scale and portable card readers-have been discussed in terms that have grown more concrete lately.
Barnard said in an e-mail that the five-year plan is not driving Chapel discussion. Instead, the Chapel Task Force, faculty and student input have more of a say in where Chapel goes, he said.
Barnard and Carter also displayed recent attendance data. Barnard pointed to a sharp drop in the number of students who exceeded 15 absences last semester as compared with fall 2001, saying it showed more students were attending Chapel this year. Four hundred and forty-seven students skipped Chapel more than 15 times in 2001; just 163 did so last semester.
However, overall absences increased from 3,093 to 3,158, and the number of students with 8-15 absences jumped from 1,631 to 2,122.
The presentation was similar to that given in an all-faculty meeting Tuesday, where Barnard, Carter and Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, provost, also showed attendance data and benchmarking statistics that compared ACU’s Chapel policy with the policies of other Christian schools nationwide.
In presenting the comparisons, Barnard noted that ACU’s probation and suspension policy was either on par or less strict than most schools, while the percentage of Chapels led by students was much greater than most other schools.
In an abbreviated question-and-answer session cut short by Wednesday night church, Carter responded to questions focusing on student involvement in Chapel.
“Students are involved in the program and the Programming Team,” Carter said in response to a question by David Pittman, a leader of the Freshman Action Council. “Students program class Chapels and gender Chapels. At the same time, we have people paid to take care of Chapel so that it will happen. You don’t have time to take care of Chapel every day; I barely have time to take care of Chapel every day.”
The meeting was well-attended, with students forced to sit on the stairs because of a lack of seats. About 60 students not affiliated with Congress or SA committees attended, added to about 40 Congress members.
“That was exciting,” said Jeremy Smith, SA president, adding that he wished meetings could be conducted on a night when they did not conflict with church. “They can only agree to come in if they can get out in time for church, and 60 people come in, and each one of them has a question, there’s not enough time.”