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The Mass Media

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Big prayers, small spaces

The+MSA+have+frequently+had+to+use+makeshift+locations%2C+like+pictured+above%2C+for+prayers+on+campus
The MSA have frequently had to use makeshift locations, like pictured above, for prayers on campus

Smallest place on earth?

You guessed it: the Islamic Prayer room at the University of Massachusetts Boston. A room so small, it is no bigger than a spacious closet.

With more members than any other religious organization on campus, you’d think they could at least give the Muslim Student Association a room that’s capable of holding more than ten people at a time.

People, or more precisely, the administrators and delegators of the UMass Boston Campus Center spaces, don’t seem to understand is that there are specific times Muslims are supposed to pray. So consider this scenario: it’s Asr, the third prayer of the day, and all Muslims on campus want to pray, without waiting for the first group to finish. It’s simply impossible.

The room is simply not big enough to hold everyone who wants to make use of it for prayer.  Believe it or not, I’ve actually seen people waiting outside the “room,” if we can call it one, for a group to finish praying.

Even worse, the so-called Interfaith Chapel (IFC) which is sparingly used, collects dust while, just a building away, individuals of the Islamic Faith huddle around a cubicle waiting to practice their religion freely. Not as interfaith as you thought, huh?

Peer out through the opening of our cubicle and you’ll notice a massive amount of unused space — the room next door to us is used for storage! This is a kick in the teeth.

Why is it that other organizations, such as the Real Life Christian Fellowship, get the same amount of space as us when 1: They don’t necessarily need the same amount of space and 2: They have don’t have as many members. The same goes for the International Honor Society, which is strange since I have never once seen a student using that space.

Don’t get me wrong, I have respect for all clubs and organizations at UMass Boston. This does not change the fact that student clubs’ spaces should be given based on needs, not prejudice. Think about it — the Honors Program Students have their own lounge room, but our prayer space can’t be extended so we don’t hit each other while praying?

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure this violates some type of right. The fact that Muslims are granted a closet while the IFC has a slew of pews — despite the fact that it’s locked majority of the day without being used — certainly does not sit right with me.

The solution? Maybe UMass Boston can remove the pews in the IFC and replace them with movable chairs so Muslims and other religious groups could use it as a prayer space when needed. Maybe our prayer room could be extended into the unused space right next to it.

Maybe, just maybe, we could choose not to systematically discriminate against certain religious groups at UMass Boston.

Maybe.