In light of a large influx of Omicron cases and the unpredictability of the future, administrators were forced to make a tough call about how Chapel was to be carried out for the foreseeable future, ultimately deciding to shorten the online videos to 10 minutes – a drastic change from what students were expecting at the end of the fall semester.
Dr. John Montgomery, dean of Spiritual Life, said that the choice to not be in person was not up to the university, citing California’s rules for employers (a 5-10 day quarantine for anyone exposed).
Montgomery also expressed that this rule has great implications for how the university could go about large gatherings such as Chapel, especially with the recent upward trend of Omicron.
As to how the decision for 10-minute videos was made, Montgomery conveyed that after a year and a half of students being mainly online they are simply “screened out.”
“It’s a saying that I have that I heard in ministry a long time ago, ‘the mind can only absorb what the seat can endure,’” Montgomery said. “The seat fatigue is very real. We felt making it a short and encouraging devotional would get more traction.”
Many students seem to be happy with the decision to switch to such a short video in place of the initial 45-minute-long videos that have been put out for nearly two years now.
“I love the new Chapel format,” said Charlie Sands, freshman photography major. “I feel that the short videos really allow people room to breathe and engage in a much more compact and efficient way.”
However, some other students seem to be less fond of the recent changes.
“I think there’s no real way to win when it comes to online Chapel,” said Greyson Berzansky, junior business administration major. “Now that it has been shortened it only gives students an incentive to pay attention and not just skip through the prompts on mute. It’s tough as Chapel is mandatory, but I feel as if this is a pitfall of reaching students that might need to hear the message.”
Looking to the future, Montgomery said that he knows this will only be a temporary decision, saying that Chapel will return in person as soon as it is feasible.
Montgomery also added that he does not want to make guesses as to when in-person gathering can return due to the rapidly fluctuating nature of COVID-19 and the policies surrounding it.