One student’s assignment has turned into a petition to change one of ACU’s longest lasting policies.
Kelcei Young, sophomore nursing major from McKinney, started “ACU Voluntary Chapel Electronic Petition”, a Facebook group, on Nov. 28. As of Wednesday, the group has 108 members.
The Facebook group was created as a “next step” after meeting with “board members” made up of fellow classmates.
“It would be great if it became a reality,” Young said, “but I was doing it for an assignment.”
Presented with an assignment to address a community issue, Young selected the Chapel attendance policy, pushing for various changes in Chapel, including making attendance voluntary.
Young has also approached Mark Lewis, assistant dean of Spiritual Life and Chapel Programs, about her proposed changes to the Chapel curriculum.
Lewis said that in the 14 years that he has been involved with Chapel, the idea of a voluntary Chapel has come up two or three times.
According to the current Chapel policy, “The university desires that students engage Chapel as a significant experience in their educational and spiritual formation while attending ACU.“
“While I imagine that Chapel will remain a requirement for students at ACU, I do believe that our Board of Trustees will provide the administration reasonable flexibility in how we approach Chapel towards spiritual transformation and development in our students,” said Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, vice president of Student Life.
Thompson previously worked at a university who made the switch from mandatory to voluntary Chapel.
Thompson said that immediately following the change, the attendance patterns were still fairly high, but it was not long before Chapel attendance dropped off drastically.
“Additionally, this change caused great division on the campus between those students who were deemed ‘real Christians’ and those who were not,” Thompson said.
ACU’s Chapel policy, however, will not undergo any drastic changes any time soon.
“Our goal is always to listen to the concerns and ideas of our students, and to vet such recommendations through our mission, vision and values as a Christian University,” Thompson said. “Students are not penalized for respectfully expressing their wishes. We do however, prefer that students come and simply talk with us about their ideas before taking a petition approach to the matter.”
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