In an email sent to students on June 15 outlining the top 10 safety policies for the upcoming school year, it was announced that convocations are canceled for the Fall 2020 semester. During a Student Association meeting on June 24, Vice President of Student Development Dennis Negron went into further detail about what worship credits will look like.
According to Negron, worship credit requirements for residential students will be as follows: Freshmen and sophomores will need to receive 35 credits, juniors will need 30, seniors will need 25 and seniors graduating in December will need 20. Commuting students, including those from Southern Village, will need to meet the following requirements: freshman and sophomores will need 25 worship credits, juniors will need 22, seniors will need 20 and any senior graduating in December will need 15.
In regards to the cancelation of convocations, Negron said there will be no cultural credit requirement at least for the first semester. However, he said, if there is a vaccine available by next semester, then things could go back to normal.
“The reason why we’ve decided not to have the convocation program is that we don’t want students feeling like they have to go when we can only have 300 people in there, but we’ve got 800 people trying to get into the building,” Negron said. “We don’t want to cause that stress.”
According to Negron, while some students may feel like they still have to attend spiritual events to receive worship credit, the school does not want to eliminate student’s ability to attend worship.
“While we’re aware that there are students who choose not to attend worship at all, we believe that people will still want to go to worship even in the new setting, and may miss the sense of community if worships were eliminated,” Negron said. “So this is why we’ve lowered the number of credits students need to receive.”
However, the 11 a.m. time slot on Thursdays that was once used to host convocations will not be left empty. According to Negron, a new series called Critical Conversations will now take place at 11 a.m. and will be completely voluntary. He said that while students are not required to attend, with the current setting the world is in with the rising Black Lives Matter movement and the flood of racial injustices, this series will be focused on doing Q&A’s along with interactive conversations on such topics.
“One of the topics is going to be Adventism and racism—we’re going to look at the history,” Negron said. “And we’re not just going to talk about race every single Thursday. There’ll also be a chance to talk about sexual misconduct on campus and mental health issues.”
Critical Conversations will take place in the Thatcher Hall Chapel, but to meet social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19, a maximum of 120 students will be allowed to attend each meeting. Additionally, Negron said that although these meetings are voluntary, those who choose to go will be able to receive credit.
A complete, adjusted list for the Fall 2020 credit requirements can be found under the Student Development page on Southern’s website, titled “Convocation.”