Think some chapel services have been especially noisy lately? You’re not the only one.
“The morning that Marit spoke in chapel was the loudest I have ever heard students being,” said freshman Mackenzie Larin. “It was rude and obnoxious.”
Patrick Hummel, the Director of Residence Life agreed. “I had never heard noise like that in chapel before. It sounded like people milling about and talking in a coffeehouse.”
Depending on where they sat, many students were upset after senior Marit Langley’s “I Have a Dream” speech in chapel, but not because of anything in Langley’s speech. Noise from the balcony spread down to the main level, and was so loud that even people in the first few rows had a hard time hearing what Langley was saying.
Langley heard the noise for herself as she was speaking, but did not know if the level was out of the ordinary.
“I honestly didn’t realize the noise was that unusual,” said Langley. However, after she saw people turning around and President Greg Christy looking “like he was going to explode,” Langley wondered what was going on and if she should continue to speak.
“I didn’t know if I should have stopped. I mean, what if there was a fire in the balcony?” said Langley. “It made me a bit nervous. Was it a reaction to me personally?”
The noise was very doubtfully a personal reaction to Langley or her speech. Students first reported noticing too much chatter as senior and SGA member Wes Garcia took the microphone to promote the ConServe energy reduction challenge before Langley ever appeared on stage.
“I thought Marit’s speech was really good,” said sophomore Samantha Bender. “Well, the parts I could hear were, at least. They missed out on some really good things she was saying.”
Langley was disappointed after chapel when several students and professors congratulated her, then asked to read a copy of her speech since they had missed parts of it.
“I put time into writing that speech,” said Langley. She also faced nerves speaking in front of such a large crowd and wondered why she had to go through that if many could not hear her anyway.
“Marit’s speech was definitely worth it,” said Hummel. “She did a great job.” In order to prevent the same type of disturbances the following week, a more obvious “chapel patrol” was present in the balcony. Hummel, along with John Brogan, Dean of Students, sat up top to keep an eye on things.
Hummel, who generally “patrols” the balcony every once in awhile, thought it felt very “middle-school” to sit up there every day last week.
“The majority of our students are good,” said Hummel. He hopes the staff patrol can diminish as more and more students “ask each other to show respect for their peers.”
Sociology professor Dr. Scott Monsma also sat upstairs for Monday’s chapel, but for reasons of curiosity rather than discipline.
Monsma was quick to dismiss rumors that he was a member of the “chapel patrol,” which he sees as an inherently negative role for a professor to have. “I don’t want people to look at me as the bad guy about to slap your hand,” he said.
After sitting in the balcony for the first time during Monday’s chapel, Monsma decided that it is in fact harder to pay attention up there: “It’s so far removed from the rest of the chapel. You’re looking at the top of the speaker’s head.”
When Hummel has sat in the balcony, he said he can “get a good view of the students,” thanks to the design and angle of the seating. He notices more studying and more chatter up there than in other areas of the chapel.
“I refuse to sit up there,” said sophomore Logan Smith. “A lot of the students up there are disrespectful.”
Staff and students still believe that those who choose to sit up there should be able to do so quietly.
“Even if you disagree with the speaker, you can show some respect and show you value each other,” Monsma said. “You can sit quietly for 25 minutes.”
Most would agree that even having the need for any type of “chapel patrol” is somewhat sad.
“I would hate for Patrick and Brogan to have to be that,” Monsma said. “They’re great people and shouldn’t have to have that job.”
“I don’t think a chapel patrol should be necessary,” said Langley. “It’s half-an-hour. Even I can sit still for that long.”
Hummel does not want his role to become a permanent thing. He hopes more students stand up, talk to and call each other to a higher level of respect for one another.