Not a “Prayer” Room

Matthew Greenberg, Staff Writer

Photo by Matthew Greenberg

The official name is the “Reflection and Meditation Space.” Student Union Room 219 will henceforth be known as such and will be open during the hours of the Student Union. This room will be strictly for quiet reflection and meditation. It is not to be used for any group activity or as a study space; that means no napping. Any individual who is disruptive or disrespectful to people making proper use of this space will promptly be asked to leave. This space was originally created in order to provide a place for Muslim students to be able to fulfill their religious requirement of praying five times per day. According to the NEIU bylaws, there is nothing which prohibits the use of school property for this purpose, so long as there is no discrimination, religious or otherwise, taking place. There is also nothing that would prohibit the existence of this space based on the federal law of Separation of Church and State, since the room is not being used solely for religious purposes, and no university teaching takes place there.
The student population of NEIU has a right to their own opinions on such a space existing. In an unofficial poll asking random students for their thoughts and opinions on the matter, over 85% of students said they did not even know the space existed in the first place. Once informed, most students were not bothered by the concept. The President of the True Vine Bible Study Group, Matt Groters, said that, “I think it’s a good idea.” He explained that so long as students were responsible with their use of the space, there should never be an issue. The President of Hillel, the Jewish student organization, Ilana Ostrow, had similar feelings when she said, “I don’t mind as long as the space isn’t being misused. If someone is going there and being disruptive, that would bother me. But if someone wants to privately pray or reflect that’s no problem.” When asked, neither president felt that the space would be of much use to their respective organizations because most of their gatherings are done in large groups. One Muslim student, who wished to remain anonymous, explained how she felt as a regular user of the Reflection and Meditation Space. “It is important to me that I have a place to go where I am comfortable and able to pray when I need to.” She explained that, in her mind, it is a positive thing that the university was so willing to support people’s rights, while showing respect for the various cultures that exist on campus.
Based on surveys of the general student population, as well as the opinions of religious student leaders on campus, there is little to no student opposition to the existence and proper use of the Reflection and Meditation Space.
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or with to report any misuse of the space designated as the Reflection and Meditation Space, please contact Student Union Event and Conference Services in SU 207, or Student Leadership Development in E 041B.