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Miscommunication regarding Ethos policy causes tension among student body

In the final days of summer, a misprint in the Oklahoma Christian University 2017-2018 handbook left students feeling campus administration had finally put a price on chapel attendance.

According to the originally published Oklahoma Christian 2017-2018 handbook, “A failure to meet the required spiritual development credits (Kudos) is considered a serious violation of the Code of Conduct.  If a student does not meet their minimum Ethos requirement, a fine will be charged to the student and other disciplinary action may be taken.”

Oklahoma Christian students took to social media last week to share mixed feelings over what they believed was a change in Ethos policy.  Sophomore Abby Dolan sent her thoughts in an open letter to the Spiritual Life Office and administration, then shared it on social media with the Oklahoma Christian student body.

Only days after numerous students began questioning the Ethos team and administration, Oklahoma Christian student announcements released a new version of the handbook with an updated policy regarding Ethos fines. Dean of Spiritual Life Jeff McMillon said the original version was a product of an administrative typo from when the handbook was put together.

The updated handbook clarifies that starting this school year, students can now choose between disciplinary action and paying a fine if they do not reach their Kudos goal by the end of the semester.

“The one and only upcoming change, regarding fines, has been added merely as an additional option to help students stay eligible when suspension or disciplinary probation isn’t a good choice for the student,” McMillon said. “The student will have a say in which option is selected.”
Spiritual Life Coordinator Summer Lashley said this change in policy is meant to allow all students on campus a solution should they find themselves with an insufficient number of Kudos.

“Fines are one option and will only be used at the discretion of the Dean of Students,” Lashley said. “We really did this to help out students when they find themselves in a situation where being on probation for a semester will keep them from doing something that is really important to them.

According to the handbook, there are now three options as consequences for lacking the Kudos requirement: being placed on disciplinary action, placing a hold on the student’s account, or at the discretion of the Dean of Spiritual Life, paying a fine.

The fine would be $20 for each Kudos not earned, but not to exceed $350, however, students are limited in how many times they can use this option during their time as a student on campus, according to the handbook.

Students shared a wide range of feelings regarding the new opportunity of paying fines instead of getting the necessary number of Kudos. Senior Joshua Hall said he felt adding fines turned chapel into a buyout program. Others, like senior Raena Crouse, said fines are easily avoidable by attending chapel.

The Ethos Project includes chapel and other spiritual activities, such as Bible studies, community service projects and devotionals, as a means to earn the standard 65 Kudos a semester, although there are certain Kudos reduction allowances. Since Ethos was implemented in 2014, different systems have served as trial and error for the most effective way to enforce chapel attendance.

“After our research, we learned that a majority of schools with chapel enforce fines,” Lashley said. “This is the least fun part of spiritual formation at OC. It stinks to have any consequences at all, but, unfortunately, you can’t have a board-mandated, required co-curricular program without consequences.”

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