Students reflect on new chapel seating

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Students reflect on new chapel seating

The new chapel seating assignments emphasize community during chapel times, BJU, Greenville, SC, 25 September 2019 (Robby Jorgensen).

Chapel seating arrangements have changed this semester, and many students think the change is a good one. 

This semester marks the first time that students can pick their own seats in an assigned section as opposed to being assigned a specific seat. Students can find friends in their sections instead of sitting next to random “chapel buddies.” However, the more open-seating style means students must scan their ID cards when leaving chapel.

Zane Trively, a sophomore graphics design major, said he likes being able to sit with friends. “You can talk to them right before chapel,” Trively said. “You can maybe share a couple opinions during chapel. It’s always nice to just be with somebody that you kind of know.”

Junior Spanish education major Macy McArthur said the change has affected the atmosphere of chapel also. “It’s more like a church atmosphere,” McArthur said. “You can fellowship, and yeah, you might be sitting next to a stranger, but you’re not forced to, so then you’re actually willing to get to know them.”

Marisol Torres, a senior Spanish major, said she disliked the change at first but now has grown to appreciate it. “I really do like the liberty of being able to sit near a friend if they’re in my section,” Torres said.

Students are also enjoying the option to choose their own seating for more than social reasons. McArthur said she can avoid distractions better by picking her seat in her section. “The closer I am to the front, the better I can pay attention,” McArthur said.

Torres said the change puts responsibility on students to pick their seat and follow the rules.

Junior nursing major Daniel Miller said the new system hasn’t changed much for him, even though he still gets to choose who he sits next to and has the option of switching. “I sit in the same seat, and the same person sits next to me,” Miller said.

Most students agree that the biggest disadvantage of the change is the time required to get out of chapel at the end. “You can go really fast, but there’s so many people that need to be scanned out,” Trively said.

“There’s some people who have classes right after chapel,” McArthur said. “The scanning out process is posing more challenges for those who need to be able to get out of chapel quicker.”

Similarly, junior theatre major Kayley Baker said she likes the change but questioned whether it was effecive.

However, Alan Benson, vice president for student discipleship and development, said the switch is working well. “So far, the assignments are accomplishing these purposes,” Benson said.

Those purposes include having students seated on time and not having large, empty sections throughout the amphitorium.

Benson added that the wait time to get out of chapel hasn’t dramatically increased. He said that staff have been timing the entire process and found the exit from chapel to take five minutes, only a one minute increase from last year.

Miller said returning students have also had to relearn the layout of the Founder’s Memorial Amphitorium.

“I still don’t know where my section [is],” Miller said. “I have to count the sections in order to make sure I get to the right one, but that’s probably just me.”