Returning Westmont students were in for a surprise at the first chapel on August 26: an email from the campus pastor’s office telling students that the days of the physical cardstock chapel slips were gone. The email said you now have to download the Westmont app and be scanned in and out of chapel with the app’s QR code to receive chapel credit. And sure enough, the usual bright and smiley faces of the chapel student workers were scanning each student into Murchison Gym sans paper. In reflection, Scott Lisea said the change “was long overdue.”
“Over the summer, Sam [the chapel coordinator and assistant] and I were overlooking the campus pastor’s office budget. We realized that thousands of dollars from our budget were going to student workers, who manually inputted the multitude of chapel cards that came into our office each week,” Lisea told the Horizon. In addition, the two noticed that Westmont was likely one of a few evangelical colleges in the United States that still relied on physical paper cards. Colleges similar to Westmont like Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Vanguard University in Orange County, and Wheaton College in Illinois, all do not use paper slips for chapel attendance.
“It was a pretty outdated system. I mean, it’s not like we’re in 1988 anymore!” Lisea said with a laugh. “Not only is it cost-efficient, but it’s also just a more sustainable system. Printing out thousands of cards each week just for them to ultimately be thrown away is just not a system that we should be using in 2019.”
The campus pastor’s office reached out to both Reed Sheard, Westmont’s Vice President for College Advancement and Chief Information Officer, and the IT department to implement the change and see if it was a possibility. Sheard and IT were both in agreement that using an electronic system would be much less dependent on both labor and budget.
But the new system is not without its hiccups. It was noticed that the required scanning out when leaving the gym at the end of chapel was causing massive exit lines. This made it difficult for students to arrive on time to their 11:30 a.m. classes. So the system changed to just being signed in before chapel started.
Lisea noted that his office still has plans for the future that they are toying around with. “I’d personally like to see the chapel attendance system become even more advanced than it is now. We’d like to have a way of students just coming into the gym without scanning anything at all. Instead, we’re trying to find a way to have students’ phones send out a location signal to our office to show that they were physically in the gym for those 50 minutes three times a week.”
Regardless of whether this change comes soon or not, Westmont’s new chapel system is one that is now part of the 21st century and much more cost-efficient and sustainable than ever before.