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Scott Strasser

Religious students deserve space on campus

By Ahmad Nasser, September 24, 2015 —

Praying five times a day sounds like a big commitment. But for Muslims, it’s a daily routine.

On campus, however, the multi-faith room on the third floor of MacHall is not equipped to house an adequate amount of students and staff during prayer times. This small space forces students into neighbouring hallways and disrupts others who use this area. While the University of Calgary is constructing a space in the Dining Centre, we need a new centralized, permanent space allocated for prayer.

Over the past couple of years, many renovations and construction projects have been completed on campus. The new Q Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity opened to students, costing upwards of $200,000 to complete. Over the summer, the Den underwent a significant facelift that cost the SU just under $500,000.

These projects are welcoming and visually pleasing spaces that give students a place to spend time on campus outside of classes. But despite these large-scale investments into student well-being, there is still a large gap where students of faith are concerned.

The commitment to prayer is carried out by a large portion of Muslims on campus, but a large enough area has not yet been secured for religious purposes. Asking for this space isn’t unreasonable — many initiatives have taken place over the last few years to fund spaces for different communities and groups on campus.

Room for prayer space is in similarly high demand. Prayer is important for many religious students at this school. So it’s time for a new prayer space on campus that will suit the needs of both Muslim students and those of all faiths.

Although a new development called the Vitruvian Space is slated to open later this semester, the location isn’t ideal for most students and faculty. Prayer times are different every day, and sometimes praying at the correct time means doing so in between classes. Walking across campus to the Dining Centre will pose a challenge when crunched for time.

The Loft on the fourth floor of MacHall was a convenient temporary prayer area last year, and Muslim students and faculty enjoyed the comfort of the space. Unfortunately, The Loft has only been designated as a temporary solution while the Vitruvian Space is being renovated.

Facilitating an accessible multicultural area dedicated to prayer for the religious population on campus is in dire need. The Loft is the perfect space to revamp as a permanent, centralized multi-faith space on campus.

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