First and second-year students attend their first Foundation Gathering at the Eddy D. Field Baseball Stadium on Sept. 1. Future Foundation Gatherings will take place online, according to an Oct. 15 email from the Hub for Spiritual Life. Photo by Beth Gonzales
The Hub for Spiritual Life announced changes to Seaver 200 programming on Friday, Oct. 15, due to logistical challenges, according to an Oct. 15 email from the Hub for Spiritual Life.
The program’s final two Foundation Gathering events for the fall semester on Wednesday, Oct. 20 and Nov. 10 will take place online. Students will view a pre-recorded video on the iAttended app. All RISE and other breakout groups will remain in person.
“I think this semester has been a lot of pivoting,” Assistant Chaplain Shaya Aguilar said. “And so, keeping the integrity of what we hoped to do from the beginning intact was something that we were struggling with how to do that but also recognizing there need to be changes that were made.”
Seaver 200, a required spiritual life program for first and second-year residential students, consists of four large-group Foundation Gathering events and six small-group Breakout Group meetings. Both event types take place weekly on Wednesdays.
Foundation Gatherings host around 1,700 lower-level students, and the Hub’s biggest challenge this fall has been where to put them all.
The first two Foundation Gatherings took place at the Eddy D. Field Baseball Stadium. Construction at the nearby Enhanced Parking and Storage Project, however, present noise issues, as construction is too far along to be stopped, Associate Chaplin Rachel Collins said.
“The construction that’s going on is really starting to ramp up quite a bit, and so they’re not able to pause the construction for our event because it would be several hours’ worth of a pause,” Collins said.
Students also criticized the baseball field’s limited entrances and packed seating.
Without the baseball field, the Hub was left without “other feasible locations,” according to the email.
Pepperdine’s largest indoor space is Firestone Fieldhouse, which can host around 3,000 to 5,000 people comfortably. Recent LA County guidance requires events with more than 1,000 attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, which would apply to indoor Foundation Gatherings.
“When we were looking at campus and what our different options are, it just became apparent that — we’re always trying to balance the issue of students are required to attend this for credit, but we also do want them to feel welcomed in the space,” Collins said.
Instead, the Hub will provide prerecorded videos for students to watch Oct. 20 and Nov. 10, to receive Foundation Gathering credit, Collins said.
The videos will be live for 24 hours, and students will have step-by-step instructions on how to watch. Bob Goff will be the Oct. 20 speaker, and Jeff Walling the Nov. 10 speaker, Collins said.
“I think students will be receptive to it because there is a little bit more flexibility,” Aguilar said. “And I’m hopeful that when things are back to normal […] that there will be an opportunity to really create the kind of community we’re hoping for.”
Looking forward, the Hub is unsure if Foundation Events will remain online or go back in person in the spring, but the team aims to be communicative with students, Collins said.
“We’re always trying to balance needing to plan but also wanting to be responsive as things change,” Collins said. “We’ve been emailing students pretty regularly on our roster, like every one to two weeks, and so we’ll stay in communication with them as we head into the spring.”
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