The evidence of change is all around us as the new academic year begins. Returning students may be able to notice it easier than first-years, but first-years, trust and believe that Simon the Squirrel is a new feature on campus.
Perhaps it won’t be acknowledged as the most significant shift on campus, but the recent move of convocation and chapel to the Wednesday time slot and the accompanying change in requirements will have an affect the students of this campus.
There are few academic activities, if any, that serve to bring together our campus community across classes and disciplines. Although there are now the added opportunities of activities that weren’t normally offered for convocation credit, such as plays and lectures, there is a loss, too.
The community present during convocations and chapels, in greeting each other, in sitting next to each other for joint learning, in hearing from our contemporaries and elders, in actively being a part of a tradition and community twice a week, is changing. Perhaps it isn’t changing for the best.
The concerns that led to this adjustment were legitimate. Students did homework during speeches and worship. Finding ways to get around the requirements drew more attention than any speakers or songs. Attendance was low and unenthusiastic. Convocation and chapel, lecture and worship blurred together.
Should we thank administration for the shift or turn to each other and ask why we made it necessary?
The newly created opportunities for night lectures and activities on campus are wonderful. There will still be opportunities for us to be together and learn together. Are we losing a uniting community? What do we lose when we will only see each other once a week or in the dark of a theatre or lecture hall?
Change is important for growth in our student body, administration and institution, and the need for change on our campus was undeniable.
Did we force a change without realizing what it would truly affect, our community?
There are different opportunities with the new system and plenty of good that can come out of it.
Although there is a loss, there is also a chance for positive outcomes. Perhaps we can fill the church chapel on Wednesdays and reignite the sense of unified community convocation and chapel once brought.