I wrote this article for The Review, which at the time of writing is a brand new magazine made by and for students of Texas A&M University. You can read about the magazine and it’s goals here. This was the very first article published by The Review:
A new meditation and prayer room is expected to open in Evans Library this semester. The room, currently under construction, was first proposed after staff noticed Muslim students using a library stairwell as a place for prayer.
Evans Library representatives say that the room will be open to members of any belief or faith and that construction should be completed before the end of the spring 2017 semester.
Nimrah Riaz, a second year graduate student in health education and nonprofit management, says that the room is a welcome addition to the library. She added that the space, privacy, and access of the new room was something she and her community were looking for.
“It was just kind of known in the Muslim community that you could use that area [the stairwell], and the custodians would leave their trashcans on the outside so we could use it,” she said. “It was fine, but then we needed more and more space because we would have a lot of people coming at once. We do have a space in All Faiths Chapel, but that’s just a little bit out of the way. It’s on one side of campus, and the people who need to pray are in the Evans area anyway.”
Tucked away on the fifth floor, the meditation and prayer room’s windows will look out over the central parking garage and towards the Oceanography and Meteorology Building. Jan Pfannstiel, assistant dean for finance, employee resources, and diversity initiatives, says the room has been an active project since the fall 2017 semester.
“We’re still waiting for some finish work to be done,” Pfannstiel said. “Walls, floors, ceiling, that type of thing, and we’re also going to be adding some furnishings to the room.”
As construction began, representatives from local religious communities were asked to view the space and give recommendations. In attendance was Nimrah Riaz, from the Islamic community of Bryan/College Station, Rabbi Matt Rosenberg from the Hillel Center, Reverend Dr. Dan De Leon of the Friends Congregational Church, and Adam Arehart of St. Mary’s Catholic Center.
The room will include cubbies for shoes and prayer rugs, some seats, and a bookshelf for religious texts. These texts include English and Spanish Bibles, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, and Hebrew and English copies of the Tanakh. Library staff will provide other works as they are requested.
While a completion date has not been set, a grand opening ceremony is expected. Pfannstiel says that members of all the religious communities who helped in the design of the room will be invited. The library will release more information on the room as its completion draws near.