Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014

UNO Opens UL System's First Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room

Students inside UNO prayers and meditation roomThe University of New Orleans became on Tuesday the first member of the University of Louisiana System to have a prayer and meditation space open to all people, regardless of faith or belief.

The University of New Orleans became on Tuesday the first member of the University of Louisiana System to have a prayer and meditation space open to all people, regardless of faith or belief.

"Students and student organizations of all faiths will now be able to reserve this space to pray and meditate," said Dale O'Neill, UNO director of student involvement and leadership. "This was truly student-driven...and it's truly student-centered."

In a special afternoon ceremony, UNO President Peter J. Fos led the inauguration of the Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room, located on the second floor of the University Center. He said that he was proud UNO is the first member of the UL System to open a free and safe space for prayer and meditation and publicly thanked the University's Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and Office of Diversity Affairs for making the reflection room a reality.

"Since I've become President here, you may have heard me talk about my desire for UNO to become the premier university in the University of Louisiana System. What do I mean by that? I want us to excel in all facets: academics, research, athletics, community service and student support," said President Fos in prepared remarks.

"One of the ways we can support our students is by giving them the resources that they need to be their very best. And that is why I think this new Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room is such a wonderful addition to the University. We would like our students to nourish their spirit as well as their minds. In our hectic and stressful lives, all of us can benefit from some moments of quiet reflection, prayer or meditation."

The Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room, located in Room 201A of the UC, is a serene setting, students and staff said yesterday. Tall narrow windows let in natural light. Long tables and bright blue chairs beckon visitors to sit down, pray, read, reflect or meditate.

The Muslim Student Association, the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship and Baptist Campus Ministry played a special role in ensuring that the Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room came to fruition, said O'Neill. Over time, student organizations and individual students have expressed a need and an interest in having a quiet and sacred space for reflection and worship.

She worked with students to gather and feedback and drafted a proposal for submission to the University's space allocation committee, requesting a location that is both welcoming and easily accessible to students, many of whom rely on foot travel and public transportation. She also worked to create a space that would be equally inviting to individual prayer rugs, the gathering of prayer circles and tabletop discussions.

The student union is a "home away from home for most students," said O'Neill. "We just thought it was the most fitting."

O'Neill said the University should be commended for consistently embracing diversity and leading the way for others.

"Students came and voiced their concerns," said O'Neill. "I think it's a testament to our students that if something concerns them, they voice those concerns to the administration and the administration makes sure those needs are met." 

 

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Office of Student Involvement and Leadership