Between its decision to divide the multipurpose room and its poorly executed UCommons renovation campaign, the Student Union has been a magnet for criticism within the past year. But its latest move, to create a first-floor meditation room next fall, should be met with nothing but applause, as it promises to only make UNC more inviting to its diverse community of students, faculty and staff.
With this simple solution, the Student Union has directly addressed some basic needs and desires voiced by the campus Muslim community, while also remaining open to all others. Muslim students, faculty and staff have had to pray in various common areas and other highly public spaces while on campus. This new room will not only give them privacy, it will also prevent them from getting in the way of other students while praying, which has been a headache for Union officials in the past.
As it stands, Muslims who wish to pray together on campus — the faithful must pray five times a day — must rent rooms in the Union on a daily basis.
But rooms have often been hard to come by, especially on weekdays during the late afternoon and evening. And since four of the five required daily prayers are between noon and nightfall, prayer times often coincide with the times hardest to find an empty room.
The room will also contain a foot-washing basin to facilitate the Islamic washing ritual of Wudu that must be undertaken before prayer whenever possible. The basin will most likely be significantly more convenient and comfortable than whatever methods Muslims have resorted to on campus in the past to wash their feet and ankles. That’s a lot of wasted time and effort that will be reduced by this room.