Muslim Students Search for College Prayer Space

Muslim Students Search for College Prayer Space
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Should college and university campuses create private prayer spaces to better accommodate Muslim students? Such is the dilemma for Wichita State, where Muslim students must pray in the library or walk to the nearest mosque and risk being late for class. Public universities routinely face this challenge and are unsure how to respond - they must simultaneously balance the needs of Muslim students while abiding the First Amendment, which prohibits the promotion of religion. One proposed solution is to clear out the pews from the campus chapel to make for a flexible space.

In contrast to public colleges, private institutions do not face the same legal issues. For example, Georgetown University has 50-60 students gathering daily in an on-campus Muslim prayer room. Even the University of Colorado at Boulder is seeking to create a quiet zone that's religion-neutral because "prayer would be one of the many functions that would go into the room." The Muslim Student Association (MSA) has created a guideline called "How to Establish a Prayer Room on Campus," and MSA President Mubarak has stated that “the issue of prayer for Muslim students is a little bit unique in that Muslims have to pray at set times of the's very likely that they will need to pray at some point when they are on campus." The MSA believes a prayer room should be centrally located, easily accessible and clean place and possibly have bookshelves, shoe racks, and bulletin boards.

A large portion of the students on Wichita State's campus are OK with the concept of having an interfaith prayer space, but there are always those who question, "Why would WSU change the chapel into a mosque?" In your opinion, how should WSU and other universities address the prayer room issue? If you are spiritually strong in your faith, check out some of our specific religion scholarships to help fund your college education.

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