For years science fiction has foreseen humanity’s ultimate demise at the hands of machines. But the future came sooner than expected for chapel monitors at BJU, who found themselves replaced by three automated cameras.
Dr. Eric Newton, dean of students, announced the change from the FMA platform during this semester’s second chapel service. From that initial announcement spawned a host of questions, slight paranoia and a slew of “Big Brother” jokes.
The BJU administration and the Student Life & Discipleship Office’s joint decision came after a summer of deliberation. Newton, who led the project, referenced many people having to take unnecessary trips to Student Life & Discipleship to verify they were present in chapel.
“I think there will be less hassle having to come to appeals committee,” Newton said. “So fewer people will have to stand in lines and verify that they were there.”
Communicating the importance of chapel was the driving force behind the decision. The new cameras will reinforce the University’s requirement that all students attend chapel.
“We were finding that the accuracy wasn’t what it could be,” Newton said.
Newton said benefiting from chapel requires attendance. Student Life trusts that the cameras will ensure everyone benefits from chapel or, in other words, ensure everyone attends chapel.
There has been much speculation about the location of the cameras. Newton said the cameras are strategically placed above the stage at an angle that provides coverage of FMA’s entire ground floor.
Three different angles were necessary in order to see the whole student body, according to Newton.
Contrary to what one might think, the new process of checking chapel attendance is quite simple. Newton said the cameras are automated, taking pictures right when chapel starts and a few more right after chapel starts.
Student Life then reviews the photos to make note of absences and ensure accuracy in the attendance policy.