By Art Ortega | Staff Writer
Plans for a new Interfaith Center in the Santos Manuel Student Union are looking quite positive.
There is one major barrier that is delaying the development of the Interfaith Center.
“The proposed buildings are too small,” explained Aaron Burgess, Associate Director of Operations for the SMSU. “There is just not enough space, but we are determined to do as much as we can to see this project through.”
The Ad Hoc Facilities Committee held a meeting on May 30 at 2:00 p.m. where the topic was discussed and ideas were shared.
More than 10 students were present to voice their opinions about the Interfaith Center as well as professor Dany Doueiri, which expressed his desire for the inter-faith center for students.
“We would like a prayer room where all students can give back to their religious affiliations,” said Doueiri. “An interfaith center would allow students to learn from each other. All of these questions from each others’ faiths can spark learning and sharing.”
Most students are unaware of the proposed Interfaith Center.
“Most students don’t know about this. Once it is advertised, I think many students will embrace it,” said Doueiri about the current meditation room.
Edgar Lopez, Student Representative and Board of Directors, also thinks the interfaith center is a great idea.
“I find it fascinating to learn about other religious denominations. It opens the opportunity to share my faith with others, and in the process solidifying the strength of my own faith,” said Lopez.
There are two main options that could be taken concerning the placement of the inter-faith center.
Option A includes incorporating the old Women’s Resource Center (next to the Pub) plus the Green Room for the prayer room and transforming them into the inter-faith center.
This will also mean that the current meditation room will be moved downstairs to the green room.
This option will include an increase in space of about 540 square feet.
In total the inter-faith center will be about 760 square feet.
Option B includes moving the Program Board Room into the old Women’s Resource Center room and creating the inter-faith center there.
This option will include a total area of about 460 square feet.
“A lot of student organizations want to learn about other faiths. Having an inter-faith center will enable the students to find commonalities,” said Burgess.
Another issue concerning the new inter-faith center was the monetary costs associated with maintenance and staffing.
This issue will be taken care of by using a volunteering committee. Most models of prayer centers from other schools use this form of staffing.
Despite the difficulty, Burgess was adamant on providing for the students’ religious needs.
“For us to ignore the requests of that part of our student populations would be an insult. If it is important to us, we will get it done,” said Burgess.
The committee voted to recommend the addition of the inter-faith center to the Board of Directors.
The Board meeting will take place on June 6 at 10:00 a.m; once the Board makes a final decision, the new inter-faith center addition will begin to take place simultaneously.
Students, keep your fingers crossed and pray the inter-faith center will be added soon!