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Students speak up about the chapel system: Part 3

Editor’s Note:

On Dec. 11, 2021, Oklahoma Christian University President John DeSteiguer announced the discontinuation of small breakout chapels. Since then, a petition to bring small chapels back garnered over 1,800 signatures, the University created a chapel task force, and Big Chapel resumed with a new schedule.

To amplify student voices on the issue of the chapel system, the Talon is publishing a series of question and answer interviews with students under the condition of anonymity. These interviews were aggregated by a group of five students in a Journalistic Storytelling course.

Reporter’s Methods, Reasons, and Rules:

I used Discord to record my interviews. I was able to get in touch with some alumni to get their opinions. I chose these people because one was involved in Safe at Home Chapel, and one is a graduate that ran a small chapel. I gave them rules to be civil and measured in their responses.

Female, junior

 What was your favorite small chapel and is it still meeting? 

“My favorite chapel is Taking Sides. I don’t know (if it is still meeting).”

Will having only Big Chapel hurt your spiritual life, and if so, how? 

“Yes, it will. DeSteiguer said this was supposed to strengthen OC as a community, but I believe the entire student body sitting in a dark room does not strengthen the community. Meeting as small groups and listening to fellow students and faculty strengthens our bonds as a community.”

Will removing small chapels hurt Oklahoma Christian’s recruitment?

“Chapel did not affect my recruitment to OC, but if (prospective) students hear about OC minimizing chapels which were safe places for minorities, this might make them reconsider OC as their future school.”

What helps you grow spiritually?

“Being together with fellow Christians, but I must be able to participate in that fellowship. I feel invisible in the large chapel, so that makes it impossible.”

Does the change in chapel policy change Oklahoma Christian for you?

“As a queer woman, I never felt represented and seen at OC. I now feel even less welcome on campus. I actively tell people to avoid OC for this very reason.”

Female, graduate

What was your favorite small chapel and is it still meeting?

“My favorite small chapel was the relationship chapel. Not only did it encourage  strong spiritual relationships, but it put into perspective the relationship we have with God and how our relationships (romantic or otherwise) should glorify Him.

I’m not sure if they’re still meeting. It would be tragic if they weren’t, because I think it is important for young adults to have a good example of spiritual relationships. Younger generations have a different perception of the world and love.”

Is Oklahoma Christian fulfilling what you asked for with chapels?

“Having only Big Chapel is a tremendous blunder. It is the removal of diverse thinking, which is what a university is meant to encourage.”

What helps you grow spiritually?

“Personally, it is a mix of community, open discussion and providing myself the opportunity to see God in places I wouldn’t expect to see Him. Telling people about my discoveries also allows me to share my perspective and gives them a chance to enlighten me with their own thoughts and opinions.”

Does the change in chapel policy change Oklahoma Christian for you?

“Stripping away opportunities for students is utterly heartbreaking. Getting rid of all other chapels, besides Big Chapel, is building a wall, preventing others from an open and welcoming community. I believe OC is trying to use these walls to keep followers in but in reality they are keeping diversity, originality and exploring spirituality out. I pray that they take into consideration why Oklahoma Christian University exists and what it stands for. OC is a place of learning and growing. Students will not grow if placed in a box of what they believe to be a hive mind society.”

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