Written by Paola Mora Zepeda and Taylor Dean
In a meeting this past Monday, Aug. 24, administration made the decision to suspend the enrichment credits requirement for students during the Fall 2020 semester. The decision, which will eliminate both cultural and worship credit requisites, was reached after the President’s Cabinet held a discussion with Southern’s Faculty Advisory Committee.
“We decided that it was inconsistent to require worship but tell the faculty that they should not be taking attendance in classes,” Vice President of Student Development Dennis Negron said. “We did not want to put students in a position where they felt like they had to go to a meeting and compromise social distancing.”
According to Negron, all scheduled programming, such as Vespers, will still take place, but attendance will now be voluntary.
Sophomore education major Michelle Sandoval said that since the announcement, she feels a little more at ease as she now has one less thing to worry about. She said that it was the right move by administration as gathering for events like Vespers and convocation could make some people feel unsafe.
“I personally want to attend some Vespers because they are one of the first things that made me feel comfortable the first time I came to Southern,” Sandoval said.
Campus Ministries Experience Coordinator and theology senior Bryan Arvelo said he is not worried about discontinuing worship credits because he feels Southern students are very communal and have the desire to spend quality time with each other.
“I’ve listened to a couple of voices from students and there’s pretty much a common feeling of joy about the fact that we don’t have worship credit anymore. And I actually understand it,” Arvelo said. “Vespers attendance might go down a little bit, but I don’t think that will mean a Christ-centered campus will disappear.”
Arvelo said while it won’t be in the same capacity, he hopes students will engage in smaller-scale spiritual opportunities on campus.
“Fortunately, we still have ministries like Life Groups and several different other ministry opportunities throughout the year that will keep students involved and excited about continuing their spiritual walk,” Arvelo said. “I think it’s for the best with this COVID situation. And this decision will just keep students safe.”
Earlier in the summer, it was announced that the number of enrichment credit requirements would be lowered, but safety concerns have now made administration reevaluate and ultimately change its decision.
“We’re making this decision primarily because it was brought to our attention that we were not putting students’ safety first,” Negron said. “When we realized that, we decided to change our minds.”
Negron said no decision has taken place regarding enrichment credits for the Winter 2021 semester.
Vice President for Spiritual Life Joseph Khabbaz said that despite the discontinuation of worship credits, the Campus Ministries team will continue to have opportunities where speakers can come and talk with students about issues that young people face and encourage them in their spiritual walks. He said that although the credits will not be there, he believes the Holy Spirit is still present and will touch people’s lives and finds it important for students to know that spirituality will still remain a key part of campus life.
“I believe that we have a campus that is very spiritual and seeks to pursue Jesus even with no credit,” Khabbaz said. “…Just because the credit is not there, it does not mean the significance of spirituality for our lives is any less.”