As an institution that prides itself on tolerance and diversity, the University continually strives to be accommodating to all religious traditions and beliefs. Yet the accepting atmosphere the University is trying to foster will be impossible to achieve without better accommodations for Muslim students. Already, the Muslim Students Association has asked for a reflection room – a quiet, nondenominational room that can be used for prayer – on North Campus. The University should work with MSA not only to find such a room on North Campus, but also to ensure that Muslim students throughout the University have convenient access to reflection rooms.
Islamic religion calls for prayer five times throughout the day, which means many practicing students need to have places to pray while they are away from home attending classes. In addition, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts in early October, calls for exceptional spiritual reflection and prayer. With Ramadan approaching, more Muslims will assuredly be looking for a place to pray between classes when they are not at home.
Currently, there is a reflection room in the Michigan League, which is used predominantly for Muslim prayer. Though the room is well used, it is not convenient for many students, especially those who spend the majority of their time off Central Campus. Even though the University has been working with MSA since January to add a reflection room to North Campus, nothing has happened because of space issues in the buildings requested.
This is unacceptable. It should not be difficult for a Muslim student to pray. Students should not have to miss prayer simply because there is no room available. The University should stop dragging its feet and work with MSA to find a building on North Campus with available prayer space.
Already, MSA has attempted to create more reflection rooms on Central Campus. It has posed the idea of putting reflection rooms in Angel Hall and the Chemistry Building. It is understandable if these specific locales are unavailable, but other options should be sought out and pursued. The essential goal should be to add more reflection rooms throughout campus in order to make prayer easier.
It is the University’s responsibility to make sure that all students feel comfortable practicing their religion on campus. Nondenominational reflections rooms would allow students of various religious faiths to engage in individual prayers in quiet, private surroundings. These rooms need not be big or expensive to maintain; they simply need to be sufficient for personal prayer.
There is no reason the University should not be able to accommodate these additional reflection rooms. Other accommodations have been made, such as providing special meal times for Muslims during the month of Ramadan and special meals for Jewish students during Passover. If the University wants to continue its tradition of diversity and acceptance, it should move to quickly create nondenominational reflection rooms for student use.