More than 150 students signed into ACU College Republicans chapel to get a Quest credit on Monday. Yet the room itself could only hold about 40 people and less than half of those who signed into the event stayed for the entire meeting.
Why did this happen? Well, some students returned from Thanksgiving break to find they still had many Spiritual Formation Credits to get and no Moody Chapel to attend. Perhaps the real reason so many students are not really attending small group Chapel is the lack of accountability from Chapel leadership. Or, the lack of Chapel leadership in general.
Student Life has been trying to find a new university chaplain and dean of spiritual formation since Jan Meyer left at the end of the spring semester. In the meantime, David Moses, director of Leadership Camps, coordinates Moody Chapel and Mark Lewis, dean of students, serves as the interim dean of spiritual formation. This means Chapel probation or any other failure to meet credit requirements goes through Lewis, even though he also handles most other disciplinary issues on campus.
So who is monitoring the integrity of small-group chapels across campus? No one, really.
Students have been “sliding and gliding” into Moody Chapel for years, and Student Life typically monitors this. They use banner ID numbers to see that students swiped into Moody then swiped into the Bean or another building. Sometimes they send an email to the student to tell them they got caught and if they continue the behavior, they must meet with the dean of spiritual formation.
But this year, many students are taking advantage of small group chapels and the Quest mobile application to sign into multiple events at the same time. Students can walk into the Bible building on a Tuesday and use the app to sign into Seekers of the Word, Ko Jo Kai and GATA chapel events at the same time without actually attending any of them.
Students can also sign into an event on a piece of paper, leave the event, and the student in charge of the event is not going to stop them. Student chaplains can’t be expected to go back to the list of attendees and take off those who didn’t really attend. The spiritual formation office isn’t going to notice that a male student signed into a female club chapel event.
There’s no accountability for students who cheat the Quest credit system. This isn’t fair to the students who are actually attending small-group events, or the students who plan or host these events.
What’s going to happen when we actually do have a dean of spiritual formation? Students who have been sliding and gliding may get a reality-check if the new dean decides to crack down on the integrity part of the policy.
Integrity is just one reason Student Life needs to find a new dean quickly. At the same time, students need to be prepared for changes when the new dean comes.