By Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer
If you were speaking to a high school senior and had to describe Baylor, you could say something along the lines of “a university dedicated to community and using the Christian mission to develop and challenge intellectual individuals.” In that talk of describing our school, one way or another, famous Baylor traditions that enrich our university would come up, too: Christmas on 5th, Dia del Oso and — let’s not forget about the freshmen requirement — chapel.
Everyone knows before enrolling that the school requires at least two semesters of sitting in Waco Hall, twice a week, for 50 minutes. When we all look back at our time in chapel, there’s usually one or two groans, one or two sessions that were surprisingly captivating and memorable and a bunch sessions in between that are often overlooked.
Some of us live for the singing and worshipping days, some of us use the time as a napping session, and some of us simply brush the requirement off as something that simply needs to be done.
I understand the irritation and the countless articles written about how Baylor should change the requirement. I understand dreading early Monday and Wednesday mornings when you could use that extra 50 minutes to sleep or study. But the thing is, I don’t hate chapel.
There are some sessions full of worshipping. There are other sessions full of lecture. There are some days just asking you to look back at your relationship with God. Those chapels I don’t have a problem with.
The thing I hate about chapel is the days where it feels like an event full of monetary solicitation. I believe if Baylor is going to bring speakers that preach to students about involvement and changing the world, it should focus on the individualistic changes and value a student offers. Not the amount of donations they should give.
Chapel should be a time to reflect on God, not become a marketing center or donation station. Chapel at this point has begun to feel analogous with the sad puppy videos we watch that ask for donations — although physically getting involved makes a bigger difference.
I think it’s important to educate and urge involvement and change. I think mission trips, giving back to the community and reminding one another of empathy are big aspects of this university. But I don’t think it’s fair to make students feel obligated to donate money. It can start to feel as if the word of God is manipulated in order to fund donation campaigns.
I understand the impact the student body can have. If every student gave a dollar, the university could raise over $16,000 for charity. Yet, what about the students struggling financially? Our tuition is over $60,000, and not all of us are able to give up extra money.
The emphasis that chapel, the last few weeks, has placed on monetary donations takes away from everything the university has preached about being a part of the Christian community. Money and donations won’t buy you your place in heaven.
If Baylor is serious about the charities and organizations they bring in to speak at chapel that need funding, something the university should consider is, rather than asking students to continue dropping funds, say, “Students here are paying $60,000, lets lead by example and take $10 from each monthly payment to give back to the community around us.”
Imagine the change the university could have if it give back, financially speaking, as much as chapel speakers ask the student body to.