A sign outside a small room tucked away on the ground floor of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library reads, “This room has been made available for students and members of the University community to meditate, pray, and otherwise spend time in quiet reflection.”

Room 1074 of the UGLi is one of eight reflection rooms on campus, meant to be places for quiet contemplation and meditation. Often furnished with only rugs and benches, the rooms provide seclusion from the everyday bustle of campus activity.

The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Association of Religious Counselors collaborated to open the University’s first reflection room in Room 347 of the Michigan League in January 2003. Since then, seven more reflection rooms have been established across campus at locations like the Chemistry Building, Ross School of Business and Pierpont Commons on North Campus.

Nader Hakim, president of the Muslim Students’ Association, said his group has been a major proponent of these spaces, adding in an e-mail interview that the organization “provides the structural support that people need to approach the administration about improving and creating reflection rooms.”

Hakim added that the hard work of individuals are really the driving force behind MSA’s efforts.

“It’s the motivated Muslims on campus who take it upon themselves to help out their brothers and sisters in faith,” he said.

Laurie Alexander, director of the UGLi, echoed Hakim’s sentiments, saying that individual students stepped forward to advocate for reflection room space.

According to Hakim, LSA junior Ahmad Hasan was one of those students driving the push for reflection rooms.

“The administration was extremely supportive and receptive to our request,” Hasan wrote in an e-mail interview. “They gave us a lot of room to express what we wanted the reflection room to look like and were willing to make it happen.”

Alexander noted that the room has already seen significant use after being re-purposed for reflection.

“It was definitely a need that we were able to meet,” she said.

Hakim said officials have also been responsive to student complaints about conditions of the reflection rooms. Graduate student instructor mailboxes near the Chemistry Building reflection room used to interrupt students’ prayers, he said. Those mailboxes have now been removed, according to Nina Grant, director of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and the Trotter Multicultural Center.

“It was an individual student that brought that concern through the Dean of Students office,” Grant said.

MSA has raised issues of cleanliness in the Haven Hall location as well, and Hakim said maintenance has already started to improve.

Though the reflection rooms are secular in nature, Muslim students are among the most frequent users. The privacy offered by the reflection rooms allows them to quietly perform their five daily prayers while on campus.

“I don’t know of any other specific organization that uses the reflection rooms,” Hakim wrote. “But I have seen other individuals sitting quietly in personal reflection, especially in the League reflection room.”

Hasan agreed with Hakim, writing that he has seen students of all faiths and backgrounds make good use of the rooms, either for religious purposes or “simply to enjoy some personal time.” Hasan added that the rooms were intended as a safe space for University students on campus to relax and reflect.

“Overall, the Muslims on campus are very grateful to the University and student leaders on campus for recognizing this need and filling it,” Hakim said. “Speaking for Muslims, I know these rooms are frequented every single day.”

Hakim said the addition of more reflection rooms remains a priority for MSA, and the organization hopes to push for a location at the Union in the near future.

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