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Chapel to add extra session

March 19, 2003

By Milani Arguelles

Beginning this fall, all incoming freshmen will be required to attend Chapel three times a week as part of a new program to integrate new students into the Baylor community.

After attending the required Monday and Wednesday Chapel sessions, freshmen also will attend Chapel seminars on Fridays during the first six weeks of school. Seminar groups will consist of 20 to 25 students.

Each seminar will be led by a staff or faculty member and will provide an opportunity for discussion and reflection on that week's Chapel sessions.

'Across the country, it's been discovered that the more opportunities students have to interact with each other and to communicate with teachers, the better they can transition into college life,' Dr. Todd Lake, dean of university ministries, said. 'Chapel Fridays will let us accomplish both of those things. Also, as the Chapel program continues to draw in exceptional performers and speakers, it is an opportunity loss not to have students discuss what they learned in Chapel.'

At the end of the six weeks, students will have the opportunity to become part of one of three covenant groups: a service team meeting needs in Waco, a small group Bible study or a discussion group exploring Christian faith.

Lake said the groups are voluntary but that 'every freshman will really know that they are invited into that group.'

Some staff members think the 4,000-student enrollment in each Chapel section hinders the opportunity for reflection among the students and that the Chapel Friday program will improve the lack of communication.

'I think it is an intersting program,' James Steen, director of admission services, said. 'Anything the university can do to get students in small groups where they can get connected is ultimately a good thing. One of the things about Chapel is that there is such a big group, students don't have the opportunity to meet new people and communicate on a more personal level.'

In addition to allowing students to get to know each other and their professors, the new program will require freshmen to take Chapel their first semester at Baylor.

'We find that there are a certain number of students who put off taking Chapel, and it becomes difficult to take Chapel later on,' Lake said. 'We are helping them get the Chapel requirement out of the way.'

The Chapel Friday program will not affect current students who have not met their Chapel requirements. Lake said he expects 2,800 freshmen to enroll in Chapel for the fall, which leaves 1,200 seats in Waco Hall for other students who still need to take Chapel.

'The program just ensures that all freshmen will take Chapel so that none fall through the cracks,' Lake said.

Students taking Chapel currently pay a $25 fee. That will increase to $30 next fall, Lake said.

'My understanding is that there will be an increase for this fall, but it is unrelated to the Chapel Friday program,' Lake said. 'The Chapel fee has always lagged behind the other fees at the university. Costs have risen because we are bringing in more noted bands and speakers, and there is a higher quality Chapel program.'