Previously housed in lower Crosby, the Muslim prayer space has been relocated to the third floor of College Hall and is now open to the community. The installation of the prayer space was a recent endeavor, as the one in Crosby opened in fall of 2016.
“The move was part of the collaborative effort between the Office of Mission and Ministry and the Center of Global Engagement, although we certainly couldn’t have made it happen without the help of Plant Services,” said Meredith McKay, who is a coordinator in Mission and Ministry.
In the university’s efforts to provide more resources for students of different religious backgrounds, students will see changes pop up from year to year, usually around the initiatives of Mission and Ministry or those of different departments on campus.
“There are efforts but I think the institution can do a lot better in supporting our students,” said Zaineb Siddigee, a senior of Muslim faith.
McKay and Michelle Wheatley, vice president for Mission and Ministry, also find that there is room to grow.
“I think we both would love to engage more in dialogue about how we can make Gonzaga an enriching place for holistic development, which includes religious development of all religious backgrounds,” McKay said.
The space in College Hall is now split into two, one for men and one for women. Additionally, unlike in Crosby, there is running water in the entrance of each of the rooms, which is important for part of the ritual of preparation for Muslim prayer, said McKay.
The prayer room was originally in the lower level of the study abroad house before it moved to Crosby. Over time, the space has been reimagined to be improved and more accessible.
“From talking with Michelle Wheatley, as well as with the Center for Global Engagement, it sounds like the goal has always been to bring all of our prayer spaces closer together. Now the prayer spaces are in the same location as our nondenominational chapel as well as the student chapel,” McKay said.
Students will continue to have the choice to use the space in their own time, if at all.
“The Bay Area has a huge Muslim community and I didn’t realize how blessed I was until I came here,” said Siddiqee.
She has never used the prayer space on campus before. Since the Muslim community is quite small at Gonzaga, she said, a lot of students have created their own individual choices on how they pursue their faith on campus.
But, groups of students will also gather with one another at times to practice their faith in little ways or to celebrate holidays.
At the same time, that faith is individual and receptiveness may fluctuate throughout the years. GU recognizes the importance of these spaces and developing them well for different student faith groups.
“I wear a scarf. There are a lot of negative conceptions around that. But for me, it is reclaiming myself and reclaiming my identity. And saying, ‘No, this is not a way that I’m oppressed.’ For me, this is my liberation,” Siddiqee said.