Administrators Lack Space, Not Effort

Campus Administrators Continue Working on A Solution for the Lack of Student Prayer Space

Ed Yevelev/Staff

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I read with great interest the Feb. 1, 2011 editorial, entitled "Meditations on Progress," and felt a need to provide clarity on the work that the administration has been doing for more than two years on this issue. The editorial left out key efforts that have been made over the past two years by many in the senior administration to resolve this matter.

Students should know that we have attempted and failed to find acceptable space for reflection space in the following locations: Hearst Gymnasium, Dwinelle Hall (this space was used for approximately one month, but was then rejected by students), Multicultural Community Center (currently used by some Muslim students as an ad hoc location for prayer), Evans Hall, the Recreational Sports Facility, Berkeley Hillel and the First Congregational Church of Berkeley.

All of these temporary alternate spaces have been rejected by students as acceptable locations because it was felt that they were not "central enough" to meet student needs. Every attempt has failed and students have ultimately returned to the fourth floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union as the preferred location for this activity, causing much consternation among folks who use fourth floor rooms for meetings and/or office space.

Nadesan Permaul, executive director of the ASUC Auxiliary, provided financial numbers and studied space utilization patterns of rooms on the fourth floor to determine the viability of taking a room off-line between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. (or sundown) for this purpose.

While a room could be identified it would only allow for a maximum of six to 10 students at one time, thus causing any additional individuals to spill onto the fourth floor foyer area when more than 10 students seek this opportunity at the same time (more common than not in inclement weather). Further, the need for an ablution station prior to reflection has caused angst amongst users of the restrooms since students will often wash their feet in restroom sinks.

And still, the question remains: What to do?

At a recent meeting to continue this conversation it was suggested to senators present that they consider allowing the ASUC Senate Lounge to be used during the hours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for this purpose until another space could be identified. This decision currently rests with the senate. The Office of the Dean of Students, in collaboration with those of the vice-chancellors for student affairs and equity and inclusion, remains committed to working with the ASUC and other student leaders to find an acceptable solution.

Jonathan Poullard is assistant vice-chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. Reply to [email protected]

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