Change to Chapel Requirements at Southeastern University

Change to Chapel Requirements at Southeastern University

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Southeastern Change started this petition to Department of Spiritual Formation SEU Leadership

If you are here, it is because you are a student here at Southeastern University, and you have grown tired of the chapel requirements on campus. However, I understand not everybody knows all of the details. Allow me to explain what is happening.

Southeastern University requires that its students attain 35 "chapel credits" each semester. These can be done by attending chapel, completing Bible plans from SEU, and attending SEU groups. Sounds like a pretty straightforward process right? You would clearly think so. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Let's start with the underlying problem here. Every single chapel credit you miss is a $25 fine at the end of the semester. That can add up very quickly, and nobody wants to pay that. So naturally, we try to get as many credits as possible. This is where the real problems start arising. First and foremost, COVID-19 keeps a large portion of the student body from attending chapel in person. The solution to this is simple: a QR code plays at the end of chapel, leading you to a form that allows you to get credit. Yet, more often than not, that QR code does not work. Or, even worse, it finally works, but the form is only open for maybe 2 or 3 minutes after chapel ends, and those who finally get the code to work do not even get a chance to fill out the form because it is gone so fast. Many students are attending chapel (both in person and online) regularly, but are not getting any of their credits simply because the system is not allowing them to.

While it is true that you can email the Department of Spiritual Formation to try and get your credit, it is also true that many of those emails are left unanswered. Many people (such as myself) cannot even login to see how many credits we have. The aforementioned Bible plans now have a specific time limit for you to complete them in, regardless of where you happen to be reading in the Bible at that moment.

So, it leaves the student body feeling upset. Yes, we are a Christian school, and the majority of the students here are diligent about seeking the Lord daily. However, SEU is requiring each and every student to spend time with the Lord on SEU's terms, not the spiritual needs of each and every student. If you do not meet with the Lord on SEU's terms, you get a hefty fine slapped onto your already absurdly large tuition. That doesn't sit right with me, and the student body agrees. It is time for a change.

Thus, here are some proposed changes that would lighten the heaviness of the situation. First and foremost, do away with the fine. I understand that it is an incentive to get students to chapel, but the reality of the situation is that it turns most students away. Recent polls on Instagram have shown that most students feel that chapel is an insincere, scheduled activity, rather than devotional time with the Lord. Abolishing the fine would surely change this, and students would begin to see chapel as it should be- an opportunity to spend time with the Lord.

Further expanding on this idea of taking away the fine, the fine could instead be replaced by incentives. Reward the students for coming to chapel, rather than punish them for not going. Whether these rewards be in the shape of raffles, gift cards, movie tickets, and I am sure there are many more ideas like this (possibly a scholarship for reaching a certain amount of credits). This one simple change would drastically improve how the general student body feels about chapel in a very positive way.

Secondly, include more ways for students to get chapel credits. 100% of the credits towards chapel are currently catering towards things here at Southeastern University, and that does not sit well with the student body. Some possible alternatives include our personal church time, small groups at church, Bible study with friends, and more things like that. This way, the students can meet with the Lord on their own terms, not adhering to SEU's rules about meeting with the Lord. While I understand that these options are harder to validate, it would bring about a system of trust in the school. Leadership will trust the students, and then the students would learn to trust the leadership more.

Finally, reduce the amount of credits required each semester. 35 is a lot each semester, and the majority of students will never reach that goal. Most students on campus simply do not have the time to reach 35 credits a semester. This is especially true for athletes on campus and people with jobs. However, as mentioned before, more options for credits would directly lead to more students reaching the credit goal. Regardless of whether more options are added or not, 35 is an absurdly large number of credits and should be reduced to a maximum of 25 credits each semester.

I am sure there are more options besides these, and as I am made aware of them, I will add them to the list. The bottom line is that the student body is tired. We are tired of not getting credits we should be. Tired of being fined for not being with the Lord in exactly the way that SEU leadership wants us to be. Tired of the lack of communication between the leadership and the students. My hope and my prayer is that leadership here at Southeastern University would see this petition, and realize that maybe the system is not fully working in the way it was intended to. Thank you for your time, and let's see some change come about on campus.

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