By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
President Royce Money cleared the slate for every student in a stage of Chapel probation, granting full amnesty Thursday after the Chapel Task Force recommended he do so.
Students who have exceeded their allowed absences or have been placed on Chapel probation for any reason-including sliding and gliding-will begin next semester with no penalties, Money and other task force officials told the Optimist Thursday.
“[The task force] recommended that amnesty be given to all students who were at various points of probation in the current semester,” Money said. “We’ll wipe the slate clean and start over.”
This is the second year in a row amnesty has been given to all Chapel offenders, said Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life and member of the task force. In both cases, a change of Chapel policy necessitated the move.
“We don’t want to have students under two different policies,” Barnard said. “The best thing, the fairest thing, the cleanest thing for us to do is declare amnesty.”
Barnard said that although an absence policy has not been determined for next year, the existence of the task force and impending recommendations to the president have assured the demise of this year’s policy of probation and suspension.
“Obviously if it had worked out really well, we wouldn’t need to change it,” Barnard said. ” What we’re doing now needs tweaking. And it’s significant enough tweaking where you can’t run both systems.”
The idea was brought up by task force chair Charlie Marler, professor of journalism and mass communication. Barnard said he and others in the Campus Life Office had also been thinking of the idea.
Marler said he was surprised to learn that Campus Life granted amnesty to all Chapel violators last year, as well. He added that he believed last year was the first time in university history such a move had been made.
“There’s only two that I know of,” he said,” and I’m surprised there are two.”
The task force is expected to make recommendations to Money about a future absence policy this summer. If Money approves it, the policy would then be enacted next semester-the third Chapel attendance policy in three years.
“It’s frustrating to us,” Barnard said of his colleagues in Campus Life, which also has reorganized each year for several years in a row. “We want to be in a place where the majority feels good about it and not have to go through so many changes.”
Many students had criticized this year’s Chapel policy, and Mark Lewis, director of spiritual life, had called it an “administrative nightmare.”
Policy options for the future include the ability to make up Chapel absences by attending school-sponsored forums and debates and allowing a semester to improve on poor attendance.
“What we did this year was a valid experiment because we’re a university and we do experimental things,” Marler said.