The student body says “yes.”
In-person-only chapel at APU is back for the first time in two years. Students are required to attend three chapels per week, with 10 absences available for the semester. For the first semester of the 2022-2023 year, only four chapels are offered throughout the week. This shift has caused some frustration within the student body.
The current chapel options available to students are Monday and Wednesday mornings in the Felix Event Center from 10:30 a.m.-11:20 a.m., Thursday nights in the Upper Turner Campus Center (UTCC) from 8 p.m.-9 p.m. and Friday mornings in the UTCC from 10:30 a.m.-11:20 a.m. The limited options make it hard for students who are commuters, working part-time or who have a large workload for classes.
In the past, there have been up to six options, occurring at a variety of times, for students to attend chapel. Those who were able to experience those options miss having the freedom to choose what chapel they wanted to attend.
Graduate student Cate Walton is no longer required to attend, but still goes to weekly chapels. She feels that chapel this year seems more restricting. “When you’re given more options and you feel like you have more choices, it seems more appealing,” she said.
To see what students really think, I posted a poll on my Instagram story asking if they thought there should be more chapel options. Within eight hours, 56 students cast their vote. 55 students (98%) voted “yes” to having more chapel options, while only one person voted “no.” Although small in size, this poll shows that the majority of students would prefer to have more chances to attend chapel.
I asked a few of those who participated to share their reasoning behind their votes. Aidan Miller, a sophomore, explained he voted “yes” because busy students have to work around the times that APU provides, rather than what is convenient for them.
“It’s hard for students to attend chapel in person who have busy academic schedules, especially when the scheduled chapel time is during one of the only breaks some students have from class,” said Miller.
Others wish that there was more variety between the chapels. Nina Fillari, a sophomore, wishes there were more chapels like Kaleo. She particularly loves that Kaleo works with her schedule and that it doesn’t seem as formal as other chapels. “People seem more responsive during Kaleo, which then allows me to respond in my own space,” she said.
Walton also agreed that there should be more chapel variety. “It starts to feel like a chore rather than something you’re actually interested in,” she said. “You’re doing it because you have to, rather than doing it to expand your faith.”
In my three years as a student at APU, I have noticed a shift in the atmosphere surrounding chapel. Chapel was online-only for my first three semesters and hybrid for my fourth semester. These were easy because you could simply put them on and walk away. This year is the first time I’ve experienced a full in-person chapel requirement, and to say the least, I’m bummed.
When I would talk with my friends that are older than me, they would praise how fun chapel used to be before COVID-19. They described how many options there were, how short or long they would go and how fun it was to go with their friends. I feel like I’m not getting that experience, and it seems like much of the student body this year feels the same way.
The question now is, will APU bring back that experience for their students? Or, will APU continue as they have this semester?