Students puzzled about the exact purpose of the new multi-faith space in the University Community Centre can look for some answers in the new direction Myuri Komaragiri, vice-president campus issues for the University Students’ Council, is planning to take.
Komaragiri explained that before the data gleaned from the a general student survey regarding the space, the USC was unsure where exactly they wanted to take the space. Komaragiri also felt that the space was being under-utilized.
“We had this space that was technically renovated to be a multi-faith space that was not really being operated properly—there were maybe one or two religious groups that were using it, but that’s it,” she said.
“I was also asking various faith backgrounds if they used this space, and they were saying things like, ‘I had no idea it even existed,' and, 'I also didn’t think it was for me.’ Obviously a lot of things had to be done to get it to be used better.”
Komaragiri said she was surprised when the vast majority of the 900 survey responses placed the most value for the space in education and community building.
“I honestly thought most groups would say that prayer was the most important, but everyone put community building and education as the top two most important aspects of the space. So for me, that was illuminating because people wanted a space where they could learn about other ways of life. It wasn’t just the opportunity to practice their own religion, but to learn about one another, which I think is really healthy to hear from a student body,” she continued.
Dua Dahrouj, president of the Muslim Students’ Association, also stressed the need for the purpose of the space to be more clearly defined.
“I think the main issue is in properly utilizing the space, and creating some kind of consistent and clear mandate for it. I feel that, right now, a lot of clubs really want to use it, but we don’t really understand the purpose of the space. Creating a mandate with a clear and consistent purpose is really a need.”
She also explained the MSA had initially hoped the multi-faith space would provide a helpful outlet for the dedicated prayer rooms that are currently overflowing during the Islamic prayer hours, but that a number of structural issues in the space still need to be addressed before this can occur.
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