Recently, members of the Muslim Student Association have started the process of bringing an interfaith prayer room to Grand Rapids Community College.
According to the President of MSA, the goal is to have a space where people of any belief system could come and take part in whatever their beliefs are, as long as they are respectful to others.
Personally, I applaud the ideas MSA has concerning the interfaith prayer room. I would have a different opinion if they wanted the room for only their prayers, but they are willing to work with different faiths and provide this room for every student on campus.
This country was founded by people who fled from religious persecution. They came to this country to worship freely and pass that down through the generations.
The first amendment of the Bill of Rights clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
By advocating the room, the school will be supporting the country’s choice of establishing one religion. They will be providing a space for people of all religions, faiths, and backgrounds to take part in practicing a right of every citizen of the United States.
Other colleges in Michigan already have a space provided for prayer and meditation. Both the University of Michigan and Michigan State refer to it as their reflection rooms. Grand Valley has also provided for its students by using room dividers in an empty area of a quiet hallway to create a space for prayer.
We do have religiously dedicated students who are on campus for long periods of time. Their faith should not be hindered by their education, but celebrated.
Referring to the article on the interfaith prayer room on page 5, students had concerns that different groups couldn’t get along; their faiths wouldn’t allow it; it would be unrealistic to think that feelings wouldn’t get hurt and people disrespected.
Those are possibilities because we have such a diverse population at GRCC, but we shouldn’t try to sweep those differences under a metaphorical rug.
Knowing we have differences, we need to acknowledge them and begin to work together because there are indeed differences there, and we cannot let them inhibit us.
Another issue that came up was the question of whether or not religion had any place at a community college. That question can be seen as obsolete because we are adults with opinions and the ability to practice religion openly.
Creating an environment where groups are separate to avoid any conflict is unreasonable and unrealistic in this world. Combining people from groups with very different beliefs will not be an easy process, and there is a chance conflict could arise, but fear of conflict should never stop groups of people from communicating freely.
Will it work? Only time will tell. Should it be tried? It definitely should be available to the students on our campus. Diversity is what makes this country so unique. And the amount of diversity we have here at GRCC should be celebrated and showcased.
This can set a positive view for the GRCC students.