By Kelsi Peace, Managing Editor
The Students’ Association Congress examined the 21st Century Vision and continued a vacillating debate on the creation of a chaplain position Oct. 24.
After moving to definitely table a bill to create a chaplain position in the Students’ Association last week, senior senator Nathan MacKenzie withdrew the bill Oct. 24.
The move came after Congress ended debate time to vote on the bill, with questions and debates still hanging on some representatives’ lips. Some urged Congress to pass the bill and turn to the student body for the final say, but others raised concerns about creating a permanent chaplain position, suggesting instead the position be created temporarily, much like the temporary chief advancement officer position.
Parliamentarian Matt Greenberg said he would not entertain a motion to suspend the by-laws to extend debate on the subject, citing a concern for precedent set by overturning the governing document.
A bill can only be presented to Congress once.
Before debating or withdrawing the bill, MacKenzie yielded the floor to Mark Lewis, director of Student Life, who supported the creation of position.
“Anything that offers a tangible opportunity for you to connect with student body [is good],” Lewis said.
The position, which would oversee class and club chaplains, could provide much needed organization and unity, Lewis said.
Also at the meeting, Phil Schubert, executive vice president, presented the 21st Vision to Congress, entertaining questions, concerns and feedback.
“We’re about being faithful and relevant,” Schubert told Congress, if the vision was boiled down. “There’s no reason ACU can’t move into that [premiere] position if we set our sights on that goal.”
Representatives raised several concerns and asked for clarification. Among concerns raised were the different faces of the university presented to visitors compared with students, a change in the university tradition and values if broader Christian backgrounds are pursued and quality issues existing presently.
“I’m concerned with what is still lacking today,” Parliamentarian Matt Greenberg said, citing poor conditions in Chambers. “I don’t necessarily think we’re ready for that move.”
“Things are never linear,” Schubert said. “You move forward on several fronts at the same time.”
Right now, that move includes construction on the Bob and Shirley Hunter Welcome Center, plans for a student fitness center and plans for a $10 million building for history and English, Schubert said.
Schubert told representatives the university recognized its Church of Christ roots as important and said any denomination expansion – especially among faculty – would be done in an “appropriate, deliberate and sensitive” manner.
“That is the core aspect and makeup of our institution. our DNA. That will not change.”
Representatives also expressed a concern that as the university pursues partnerships with corporations, social responsibility could go by the wayside.
“I think we’re very aware of and sensitive to social issues that could come up,” Schubert said.
And as the university seeks students of more diverse background, Schubert said it will not recruit students who are ill equipped.
“What we don’t want to do is bring students who aren’t prepared to succeed here,” Schubert said.
Schubert added that the intent is not to eliminate students who cannot afford the university, but students who are not academically capable.
Representatives also questioned which “benchmark” universities ACU is aiming for – and Schubert named Wheaton’s academics
and Baylor’s research institution as two examples among others.
Rep. Byron Martin inquired about diversity in the vision, and Schubert said currently the university is at 25 percent international and ethnic minorities in the student body and eight percent of the faculty. Efforts for diversity continue, he said.
Students’ Association Congress meets Wednesdays at 5:15 p.m. in Hart Auditorium. Students are welcome to attend and speak to Congress during the open forum time.