The school year began with a chapel filled eager souls ready to start the school year with morning Mass.
Today, only a fraction of the amount come. While, partly this lacking of participation can be attributed to the normal ebb and flow of mass attendance, the real reason is because of cheating.
Back at the beginning of this school year, the Theology Department developed a strategy to help encourage daily mass attendance. An already standard five points of test extra credit was offered to students who attended Mass for at least three days.
The Department decided to increase the extra credit to a ten point reward for Mass attendance. The hope was that students more students, after going to Mass solely for points, would turn attendance into a habit.
A massive surge in the number of students attending morning Mass accompanied the change; mass was often filled with standing room only some days. This trend continued late into first semester.
Early in the semester, a sign-in sheet was used to validate visits, however this proved too difficult to manage, as the sheet was often overwhelmed with students. The system soon evolved into a solely honor based system. Students would come into to Mass, log it on a sheet of paper and turn it into their teacher.
Recently, a student was caught abusing this honor system, by not going to mass and still logging it in for extra credit, a blatant disregard of both academic integrity as well as respect for the sanctity of the holy celebration.
The Theology Department reacted swiftly by shutting down the inflated extra credit. Now students are only able to receive 5 points. As a result, students have responded by falling off in Mass attendance; now only a few students attend Mass every day.
“Some of those guys did come for the extra credit” Campus Minister Marty Matulia said.
However, the policy appears to have started small habits in some students.
“Some of the freshmen aredefinitely still coming back.” Matulia said.
Unfortunately it appears as if this experiment will never be coming back. As it was only in effect one semester, true effect and potential of this will never be known. The gravity of the situation of cheating on test grade eclipsed the potential benefit of the policy.
Students by and large have opposed this new policy saying it unfairly punishes all.
“We need to do all that we can to encourage people to attend Mass.” Junior Nicholas Chavez said. “This extra credit helped all people, Catholic or not, want to go to Mass and ending it stops it. Punish the student who did this, but don’t deny the students their opportunities for faith.”
However, unfortunate this situation is, some good things may come of it in the form of more opportunities for faith. Campus ministry has become aware of accessibility problems for some students in reaching Mass at 7:20 in the morning and is considering options. A weekly afternoon Mass may be coming in remaining school year.
However, the decision remains as it is and this incident will remain as an example of what academic dishonesty does. The simple fact of the matter is that academic dishonesty destroys opportunities. High point incentives like this do not come around very often, and its a shame to lose it because a dishonest few ruin it for the many.