Head to the bathroom in the moments before chapel starts, and you will more than likely collide with someone sneaking out the back doors.
The moment the Spiritual Formation Department’s “no scan-out” policy was implemented, SFD observed a drastic increase in students scanning in and ditching chapel.
“I’ve noticed a huge difference,” said sophomore Ella Mullins, a scanner for SFD. “I’ve seen people literally scan and walk out the other door.”
Fellow sophomore Jess Engler, an SFD chaplain, confirms Mullin’s observations. “[At the most recent Late Night] I noticed one-person ditch right away, literally scanned in and ran out a side door,” Engler said.
Alexa Hall, a Vanguard senior and another chaplain, has also noticed this rising trend.
“Every spring semester, obviously chapel gets smaller because the seniors that don’t have to come to chapel don’t come to chapel, that’s pretty typical. But the amount of students who do scan in and leave, you can tell. You come in and it’s really bleak, and we’re like, ‘where are all the students at? Is there something else happening?’” Hall said.
According to a newspaper staff observation, last Wednesday’s Gospel Chapel amounted to no less than 61 students were seen scanning in and leaving between 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after chapel began. At least a quarter of this number didn’t even go inside NMC before they left—they simply walked around the scanner without entering.
Hall said this has been a hard thing for SFD to see.
“We’re trying our best to create a space for students to be invited into the presence of God and really experience that and we do our best to create a safe environment and for students to not feel pressured in any way, but it’s hard,” Hall said.
While SFD has done their best to monitor the situation, ultimately, there’s only so much they can do.
“You can’t do anything,” Mullins said. “You can’t make them sit through chapel if they don’t want to.”
Hall agreed there are few options for SFD.
“For [the most recent] Late Night…[OSE] had different staff members stand in the halls and stand outside and literally chase students down and take pictures of students’ ID cards to make sure they don’t get chapel credit,” Hall said.
This method did not come without issues, however.
“Stuff like that is frustrating for us because that’s not part of our job descriptions…We want everyone [who is] in chapel, experiencing chapel,” Hall said.
SFD hoped that this process would make it easier for both students and their own office. Having no scan outs means students do not have to wait for scanners if chapel runs long and they must get to class. It was also meant to decrease the amount of chapel discrepancies SFD receives, because the people fighting for chapel credit are the ones who were there.
If things worsen, however, SFD has looked at going back to their original policy.
“We’ve looked at maybe having to switch back to scanning out, which sucks for everyone, but if it’s proven to us that you guys can’t handle scanning in once, then yeah, we might have to switch back or look into other methods of scanning into chapel,” Hall said.
Hall noted that missing out on chapel isn’t just missing out on spiritual life at Vanguard.
“A lot of important things happen in chapel too,” said Hall. “We have professors come in and speak on…important issues that are important to other students.”
Community is a concept stressed greatly on Vanguard’s campus. For Hall, the work of SFD is especially important to accomplishing this atmosphere.
“For us to be one campus and to be unified, a lot of that happens in chapel,” Hall said.