By Keegan D’Alfonso
Dorm construction and the planning process for chapel were major points of interest at Cedarville’s Thursday night Town Hall meeting. Cedarville President Dr. Thomas White and his wife Joy White, assistant professor of women’s studies, answered students’ questions on topics ranging from favorite date night to why the guys are roughing it in Lawlor while the girls get brand new dorms with high ceilings and larger rooms.
Dr. White addressed a number of questions that focused on why the new dorm held fewer female students than the dorm it was meant to replace and why the dorm currently under construction is also going to be a female dorm rather than a male dorm.
The main reason the new dorms focused on larger rooms and community spaces versus the number of beds was to encourage discipleship and improve retention.
“We would call it discipleship,” Dr. White said. “Secular institutions do the same thing and they call it student retention. Because if you develop friendships you are less likely to leave an institution and you’re more likely to stay at a location and to feel like you’re plugged in.”
Dr. White said discipleship is the model the university bases all the student housing on, and future dorms will follow that model as well.
Although the dorm currently under construction was originally intended to be a male dorm, it was changed to a female dorm due to the higher than expected number of incoming freshman students with a larger percentage of them being female. However, Dr. White said the university could switch the dorm to a male dorm if there are a greater number of male students next year.
The urgency for female housing was caused by the large number of female students that forced the administration to delay closing Faith, a women’s dorm, Faith. Although Cedarville has seen an upward tick in enrollment every year, this year’s enrollment was much greater than previous years. Prof. White said that this year’s enrollment increase included a greater number of undergrad students, while previous years had more graduate and College Now students.
Chapel was also a big discussion point at the meeting with one student asking for more worship chapels and others asking detailed questions about speaker selection and women in chapel.
Currently, there is one worship chapel a month, and Dr. White said that number probably wouldn’t change because of the large number of visiting speakers the university has planned this semester. Dr. White also said they plan an “ebb and flow” for chapel services.
“We try to give you a lighter week after a heavier week,” Dr. White said. “So, if you notice end times and testimonies and when they’re inserted, it’s all ebb and flow.”
Dr. White said that many times the university has guest speakers to increase exposure for the university. This gives the university the ability to show pastors and other visitors how Cedarville is different from other universities with its Christ-centeredness and intentionality through its daily chapel service. By impressing visitors with the importance Cedarville puts on Christ-centeredness, the university hopes to continue to draw more students as well as encourage more donors, which would allow for more growth and more scholarships to reduce the cost of attendance.
Dr. White also explained that while women give testimonies in chapel, they don’t expound on scripture because the university holds a strong stance on the teaching of Scripture.
“What I Timothy says is ‘do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over men,’” Dr. White said. “We try to set a good example about what we believe should happen at the local church, and we try to make sure to live by what the Scripture says.”
Many other topics were addressed at the town hall meeting, which appeared to be popular with the students. The event was planned to last one hour but lasted over an hour and a half with a continual stream of questions. Because of the positive reaction, Dr. White said he will hold another town hall meeting next semester.
Keegan D’Alfonso is a junior journalism major and the Editor-in-Chief for Cedars. He was a sergeant in the Marines and has a passion for intercultural communication.