New space gives students haven for prayer

The prayer and meditation room located on the second floor of Kirkhof

Eric Coulter

The prayer and meditation room located on the second floor of Kirkhof

Chelsea Stoskopf

A new temporary space located directly above the piano area on the second floor of the Kirkhof Center has opened to serve as a prayer and meditation room for people of all faiths.

Surrounded with temporary walls, students can use the room to pray and meditate in the way of their faiths, said Aaron Haight, adviser of the Interfaith Council.

“We found that a lot of students were reserving rooms for that purpose,” said Haight, who is also the assistant director for Student Organization Development & Transitions. “We wanted it to be in a location that was convenient for students and of course the Kirkhof center is a great location for that.”

She said the space will act as a temporary place for student prayer, and the building managers will monitor the use of the space to determine a permanent solution.

“We have been asked if we are going to do something downtown,” Haight said. “Right now space is very limited, especially downtown. So right now we are going to do this and see what the use is and what the feedback is from students.”

Haight said research shows spirituality is an important factor in college students’ lives.

“We are a public institution so we don’t have a role in that,” she said. “But we know that students are coming to our campus, and that it is an important role, and so we want to support students in making sure that their spiritual needs are being met. And so providing spaces like this just helps us do that.”

The idea for the room first came from members of the Muslim Students Association who were concerned with finding a place to pray during school hours.

“I am really happy that it is done and available to students,” MSA president Kaifa Alsoofy said. “Having prayer/meditation rooms around campus really makes it easier for students to go to a room knowing that it will be quiet.”

In the future, depending on space use, Haight said building managers will consider putting in a washing station for those whose faiths require the washing of hands or feet before prayer or meditation.

“I think for the most part that prayer and meditation is something that is personal and private,” she said. “There are some things that are vocal, but a lot of times it is very quiet. It will be a lesson for a lot of people just learning about different faiths, and if someone’s praying or meditating in a different way than you are used to, you’re going to see that and hopefully people respect that.”

The room will be available for everyone of every faith and is open from 8 a.m. until midnight Monday through Thursday and from and 8 a.m. until 2 a.m Friday through Sunday.

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