Muslim students finally have a proper prayer space on campus after months of lobbying for one.
The Setonian previously reported on the lack of a suitable prayer room for Muslim students at SHU. The prayer room provided in the Walsh Library was too small for proper use.
“I do not use the prayer room in the library because it is quite small,” senior biology major, Aamna Aamir, wrote in an email. “The space in the library, unfortunately, is not big enough for congregation prayer which is preferred.”
But now, Muslim students can use a new prayer room located in Serra Hall.
Aamir explained that one purpose of providing a prayer room on campus was for students who commuted. “I dorm so it is best for me to just go back to the dorm and pray,” Aamir said, however commuter students do not have that opportunity.
Christina Simon, junior English major and president of the Student Government Association (SGA), said that the SGA has been working with the Muslim Student Association to find the “most suitable” space for prayer.
“The reason we considered the study lounge in Serra was because it is a common space that is located behind the desk of Serra Hall, not required to be a resident of the building or to be signed in to use it,” wrote Eric Mochnacz, assistant director for Training and Development, Housing and Residence Life, in an email .
Residents and commuters can all use the new space without any
Residents and commuters can all use the new space without any trouble, according to Mochnacz. Mochnacz said the new prayer room also features a door, allowing for privacy, but that “it can still be monitored by the Serra desk assistant if needed.”
In addition, Mochnacz described the process of choosing the new prayer room.
“Before we committed, Complex Residence House Director (RHD) Jenifer Przezdzecki did an audit of the [room in Serra Hall] she noted whether students were using it as a study lounge,” Mochnacz said. “Her audit showed that it was empty a majority of the time. Then, we met with representatives of MSA [Muslim Student Association] to make sure that space was adequate.”
While the room is still in use as a study lounge for students, Mochnacz asks that students be respectful when the “Prayers in Session” sign is posted.
“Since my freshman year, we have been advocating for a prayer room in campus, and I am so excited that we finally have a [permanent] one,” said Rawda Abdelmenam, a senior studying special education and speech pathology.
Both Aamir and Abdelmenam plan to use the new prayer room in Serra Hall. Abdelmenam feels “confident that all Muslim students on campus will [use the new prayer room] as well.”
Aamir calls the prayer room a larger, more accessible space for Muslim students, and said that “it was awesome of SGA, Maggie Bach and HRL (Housing and Residence Life) to work together and provide us with resources that help a population of students on campus feel like they belong and have a home at Seton Hall.”
Marie Leone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.