Snapping vs. Clapping in Chapel: It’s Not Actually A Big Deal

by Thomas Hochman

If there’s one administrative move that’s had to bear the brunt of the student body’s anti-establishment derision, it’s the requirement that snapping, not clapping, is used to express appreciation in chapel.

Now, I tend to be one of the first to bemoan OES’s sometimes over-the-top attempts to make the school a comfortable place for its students, or, as Jacen W so eloquently puts it, “OES IS JUST TRYING TO MAKE AN EXCUSE TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT WOW,” but sometimes there are bigger fish to fry. And here’s why.

Snapping didn’t replace clapping in chapel. Clapping was never accepted in that space. Before former-chaplain Liz Harlan-Ferlo arrived at OES, presentations, performances, and more were followed by silence, as is the norm in churches around the world.

In an attempt to increase student involvement, snapping was added. And things have pretty much stayed the same since then.

So the issue here is that as the student body continues to filter through the upper school, OES hasn’t done a great job of communicating the reasoning behind snapping in chapel to the upcoming grades.

Teachers often cite the opinion that clapping “implies judgement,” and that’s why it isn’t allowed in chapel — much to the chagrin of most students listening, who, and I think rightly so, think that’s a pretty bad reason to ban something. Let’s be honest, if someone is going to go to the effort to clap ironically, they can snap ironically too. Unless they’re one of the Nyes, of course, in which case they can’t snap and want everyone to know that they feel “incredibly excluded” and “deeply offended” by their “inability to appreciate art.”

But the truth of the matter is that snapping isn’t considered as much of a departure from silence as clapping is, and chaplains were just looking for a certain degree of subtlety.

So leave the pitchforks behind for a second, sit down, and watch as Chaplain Craig gets confused by Google Slides for the eighth chapel running. It’s really not that big of a deal.

Thanks for reading.

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