From newly renovated housing to a new chapel system and the removal of Paws ‘n Go, Azusa Pacific has seen multiple changes this fall.

If you haven’t noticed already, Azusa Pacific got to work over the summer to ensure students the best experience possible upon returning to campus. 

Some of the most notable changes included newly renovated units for both the Shire Mods and the Adams dorm rooms, a newly implemented chapel check-in system and the removal of the Paws and Go convenience store on East campus.

Residential Renovations

Although ZU News reached out to Residence Life, they did not respond as to why the renovations took place. Nonetheless, the new and improved housing units have changed the way students see the refined living quarters.

Abby Keane, a junior who is living in the Shire Mods for the second year in a row, was thankful for the changes and excited to see the newly renovated kitchens, bathrooms, cabinets, floors, and more. 

She shared, “This has definitely been beneficial for us since it looks much more modern in our house. My roommates and I spend a decent amount of time at home, especially considering two of them are doing asynchronous graduate programs [so we] really appreciate APU putting money towards improving our living spaces!”

In years past, the Shire Mods have seemed like the least favorable option for living spaces due to their lack of utilities such as dishwashing and laundry machines within the unit (like University Village has) and their minimal space and single bathroom.

But, Keane shared a different perspective: “Living in the mods for two years has helped me develop a few skills. The first one is communication. Our mod is really small and cozy, but it can be challenging to share one bathroom between four girls. Thankfully, all of us have learned to communicate with each other about our schedules so there aren’t any conflicts.”

To her, the smaller space offers the opportunity to host get-togethers with friends and make it more lively.

“It’s been so fun to host team dinners for the track team these past few years to help build community,” she added. “I realized I don’t need to have a huge house to invite people over. I just have to work with what I’m given!”

The Adams dorms, on the other hand, saw significant remodeling as they took out the middle wall separating the two sides of the room, opening up more space and providing more opportunities to move furniture around. Like the mods, the drawers and closet space were redone as well as the common rooms and laundry units on each floor. 

Sophomore, Janelle Santos, spent her freshman year in Adams before moving into the Mods. She shared her mixed feelings about the changes, “It is nicer in Adams because it provides more living space within the dorm room but at the same time I did like the center divider. It was nice to separate the two sides of the room to give each person privacy and the ability to make their space their own.” 

New Chapel Attendance System

Another significant change around campus is the implementation of a new chapel system through the app iAttended. 

For context, prior to the pandemic, students used a scantron/paper-based ID card system. Then, after COVID, Spiritual Life knew they wanted to roll with a more digital option. IT Services developed an internal system with unique QR codes students could scan to check in and out of chapel services. However, this system was only temporary as a few main issues arose. 

Associate director of Spiritual Life, Josh Fieldson, shared that the WiFi in the Felix Event Center was an issue but the biggest challenge they faced, they did not see coming. With the use of a static QR code, they detected that students were sharing the code with others who were not present in person. This resulted in much lower numbers of attendees in person than those who would “check-in” via QR code. 

Fieldson shared that with research and investigation, their office determined that the app iAttended would best fit their desire to keep things digital but also solve their problems from the previous year. 

Fieldson shares that the built-in live QR code (not shareable) function, plus the WiFi upgrades across the university has already ensured newfound success. “We recognize that even though chapel is a requirement for undergraduate students, there is no guarantee that chapel attendance automatically translates to spiritual formation,” Fieldson said. “However, the requirement conveys an institutional value for respecting and promoting this time as a collective worship experience to center our identity in Christ.” Additionally, the app also has a feature where students can track the number of chapel services they have attended per week and per semester. 

The results? “This semester, chapel attendance is higher and more consistent than the last few semesters, which is awesome,” Fieldson said. “We are experiencing way less WiFi issues and the versatility we have with our methods of checking in and checking out (through iAttended), have honestly brought our team a lot of joy and the feedback we have received from students has been really positive so far.”

Caroline Masson, a junior who has worked for the Spiritual Life office for almost two years, shared her own experience checking students in and out of chapel: “The biggest change with iAttended is that students scan themselves in instead of chapel staff doing it. This is a good change because it puts responsibility for credit on the student. In the same way that you mark your attendance in class, iAttended allows a smoother process for students to mark their attendance in chapel accurately.” 

Working in the Spiritual Life office also meant that Masson handled several questions about faulty check-in and check-outs due to the WiFi issues but there was no way of knowing if students were truthfully attending and having issues. Now students have fewer problems and can receive the credit they deserve. 

Paws-N-Go Closes

And finally, the last change on campus was the removal of Paws ’N Go, the convenience store on East campus. Paws ’N Go was the easily accessible hot spot for students to grab drinks, snacks, or a pre-made meal between classes on East campus. But this year, the store was shut down.

Although this change caused a lot of immediate frustration and confusion among students, there was a warranted reason that many didn’t know. Heather Snyder, director of Auxiliary Services,  shared that the reasoning behind the removal of Paws ’N Go wasn’t to take away students’ access to food options but rather to open up indoor space for students on that campus.

This decision was based on the end-of-the-year survey from students conducted by Dining Services. Additionally, Snyder shared that her office also had to take into account the business and sales of each dining venue on campus. 

The sales at Paws ’N Go were not covering the cost of labor and expenses, so we decided that we could still provide the highest selling product options at Shalom (Cafe) and The Market and then take the space to repurpose it for the community to be able to gather,” Snyder said. “Our two main goals were to still provide the products students wanted from Paws ’N Go while being able to add the benefit of more indoor space which was a concern based on feedback.”

She shared that APU does not currently have any plans to add another dining option on campus in addition to the Dining Hall, Shalom Cafe and the Cougars Den Cafe, but instead look at how to maximize their product offerings on East campus.