Algoma University has responded to the growing need for student prayer space on campus with the addition of a Multi-faith meditation and prayer room. The dedicated space was opened with a small ribbon cutting ceremony attended by University President Dr. Richard Myers, staff, and several students.
Yaser Garwan, a Muslim student at the University, says that the space “means everything” to him. Born in Canada, he grew up in Saudi Arabia, and returned to study Finance and Economics at Algoma U. “When I arrived in January of 2011, I asked if there was a prayer spot – I was told no.” At that time, he admits that the number of students on campus requiring such a space was fairly small. Since then, he has worked with Director of Ancillary and Student Services Tom Mauro towards creating one. “I appreciate Tom’s patience with me, and his hard work to make this a reality,” he said. Garwan prays five times a day, and says that prayer gives him peace and the energy to work hard in life. “Prayer is everything to Muslim people,” he said. “Being able to pray at appropriate times of day is an important part of my culture.”
Dr. Myers, in a short speech celebrating the opening of the room, stated “it is important to the University that our students have a space where they can feel comfortable and practice their faith.” He credited Mauro with proposing the location of the room, which had previously been a small student lounge area. The couches remain, but have been moved just outside the door of the prayer room, and the vending machines were moved down the hall. “We have created a valuable student space without losing a whole lot,” he said.
Mauro says that the time was right for such a space. “The number of students on campus looking for this type of space has increased exponentially in the past couple of years,” he said. “The growth of our International student body brings with it a responsibility to provide services like these to our students. We’re happy that we could make this happen.”
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