By Ashley VonLinger, Contributing Writer
Many students have been discussing the possibility that there are students on campus without chapel seats who are not required to attend chapel due to the auditorium approaching maximum capacity.
However, the administration assures students that this is not the case. Associate Dean of Campus Ministries and Campus Chaplain Greg Haseloff said, “All students who are required to attend chapel this semester have an assigned seat.”
The issue at the beginning of the year was that there were students who were assigned seats that would not be attending for obvious reasons such as studying abroad, fulfilling a student teaching requirement or completing some other type of internship.
Still, the issue remains that Hughes has almost reached full capacity. “This year probably pushes us closer to capacity than any of the last seven or eight years,” said Haseloff. The sophomore class came in with a total of 320 students, leaving only a few seats left to spare in the balcony. Each year the freshman class size has gradually increased, with this freshman class being the largest to date. As the seats fill up, students begin to wonder what Asbury plans to do to accommodate all of the incoming students.
The administration has begun to discuss ideas about how to deal with the rising issues. “We have discussed students in unique categories—such as fifth year seniors and students with less than a full load of classes—students with the best chapel attendance over the longest period of time will be students we consider,” said Haseloff. These students will be the first considered for exemption from attending chapel three times a week.
Adrienne Coffey, a former fifth-year senior, points out that students in her position have already participated in chapel for four years or more. “I don’t think that it would be detrimental to follow through with no longer making it a requirement for fifth-year seniors,” said Coffey. “I think that this campus has a huge focus on community, and I think that chapel is part of that. I would much rather see fifth-year seniors, who have had the opportunity to attend chapel for some time, no longer have to attend than to see them resort to whatever other options have been presented.”
Going into the next couple years, Haseloff says that short-term solutions will allow Hughes to accommodate the shrinking space. “While smaller measures will likely take care of us going into next year, we have some other avenues that we will consider as capacity will likely be a morphing issue going into 2016,” he said.
While the administration considers more long-term solutions for the overcrowded chapel, small changes will ensure every student has an assigned chapel seat.
“If our retention remains strong going into next year, and we have a freshman class as large or larger than the Vindicated Class, some minor changes will need to be implemented,” said Haseloff.