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Scott Strasser

New prayer space delayed until November

By Scott Strasser, September 10 2015 —

Additional multi-purpose prayer space originally slated to open in September is facing construction delays and won’t be ready until the end of November.

The new room will be called the Vitruvian Space and will be housed in the Dining Centre. The space will complement the current multi-faith prayer rooms located on the third floor of MacHall.

The additional prayer space is being installed after complaints that the current multi-faith prayer rooms were too small. Overbookings meant Muslim students frequently prayed in the hallway beside the bathrooms.

Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) vice-president communications Kamran Dadi said the added space will make it easier for Muslims on campus to observe their faith.

“If there was another group booking the room, we’d have to pray outside,” Dadi said. “For students across campus, they’ll pray where it’s convenient. But if there’s a big designated space, then that makes life a lot easier.”

The multi-faith prayer rooms in MacHall can accommodate up to 60 people at once. Students’ Union Wellness Centre community engagement manager Adriana Tulissi said the Vitruvian Space will be made up of four multi-purpose spaces — the largest of which will accommodate up to 170 people. The other areas can accommodate 30–50 people at once.

According to their most recent annual report, the Faith and Spirituality Centre serviced more than 1,800 students per week in 2014–15.

“We just have so many students using the current spaces at the same time. We didn’t have a location for people to go when our current spaces were in use,” Tulissi said.

The Vitruvian Space was supposed to be ready by the start of September, but has faced construction delays.

“We had to demolish more of the flooring than we originally intended,” Tulissi said. “We’re putting up ablution stations in the space too, so we needed to make sure things were safe and up to code by ensuring the plumbing in there is what we need.”

The University of Calgary is funding the construction project.

“The U of C’s perspective is to support student wellness and well-being and allowing students to observe their religious traditions,” Tulissi said. “We need to provide space to support that and that’s why they want to invest in it.”

The multi-faith prayer rooms in MacHall, which have been used since 2006, also recently  received some minor renovations.

Due to the delay, temporary prayer space has been set aside in the Loft on the fourth floor of the MacEwan Student Centre until the Vitruvian Space is finished. The Loft is currently used by Student and Enrolment Services, who will share the space with prayer groups until November.

The Loft acted as a temporary overflow prayer space in 2014 during construction of the new Conference and Events centre, which is adjacent to the hallway where students prayed during overbookings. Praying in the hallway was banned after it was deemed a safety hazard, and the SU had to find another overflow prayer space as a result. 

The MSA already uses the Loft for Jumu’ah prayers every Friday. Dadi said its centrality makes it a good temporary solution.

“The Loft is in an ideal location, but obviously we can’t have that forever,” Dadi said. “[The new space] is a bit of a walk, because it’s not in a central location on campus, but overall it’s still good.”

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