BOULDER, Colo. – A group of students at the University of Colorado is petitioning the university for a prayer room.
“Over the last few years we’ve seen a growth of the university’s international student population and a good many of our students are coming to us from places like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, some of the largest Muslim countries in the world,” CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said.
Muslims pray five times per day. The closest mosque is a few miles off campus, so students do their afternoon prayers in a stairwell in the Engineering Center. It is a busy area with a lot of foot traffic.
“It’s not the best but it works,” freshman Sarah Alhumaidan said.
“We try to find a place that doesn’t disturb other people,” student Fatin Kamaruzamen said.
The stairwell is loud and has a lot of foot traffic. The Muslim students said the environment is a distraction for them.
“The purpose of doing prayers is to meditate, to connect with God and it is supposed to disconnect you with your surroundings and then connect with the god. But if it’s a lot of mess going around, then I personally feel it to be not that good,” Usama Anwar said.
Anwar is president of the Muslim Student Association at CU. The group is petitioning for change. They want a prayer room in the engineering building so students can pray between classes.
The university cannot legally have a room designated for prayer.
“The university has to walk the middle ground between accommodating religious practice and observance and not endorsing a specific religion,” Hilliard said. “What we’ve got to do is find a space that can be used by all students for quiet observances.”
“This thing we have to do five times a day. If we have some better place I think this will drastically impact our lives. I think it is going to make our lives so much better when we’re here,” Anwar said.
CU said it hopes to have a solution by the end of the semester. It could be as simple as an empty classroom.