By Jui Bhatia, Beats Editor After a year of virtual meetings, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) is back and ready to tackle their lack of prayer space this year. Their efforts are directed toward looking for a room where members can pray during school hours. Islamic prayers take place five times a day, and prayer...
By Jui Bhatia, Beats Editor
After a year of virtual meetings, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) is back and ready to tackle their lack of prayer space this year.
Their efforts are directed toward looking for a room where members can pray during school hours. Islamic prayers take place five times a day, and prayer times are determined by sunset and sunrise. Because of the Daylight Savings switch, sunset now falls earlier in the day, causing one of these prayers to fall during the school day, around lunch time. Due to weather and time constraints, Muslim students are often unable to complete this prayer on time.
“We have five daily prayers every day and in the winter time, one of them falls during school,” said junior Aayma Hamid, president of the MSA. “We miss it often because by the time we get home, the time for it is over.”
The inability to complete their scheduled prayer has sparked the MSA to work with administration to look for a quiet, private room where students can pray. However, the purpose of this room will not simply be for prayer. It will also be open for anyone to use as a space for all students to take a moment away from school.
“One thing that we want to make sure is that we don’t want people to think this space is only for Muslim students; it’s a quiet place available to everyone,” said sophomore and MSA vice-president Malaika Hamid. “We want to work with other clubs and have a quiet meditation room where people can just come in and take a moment to decompress.”
The path to securing this room, however, hasn’t been easy. The club president and vice-president have been regularly meeting with Dr. Oscar Torres, T/E Director of Equity and Public Programs, but have been facing logistical issues. Ongoing problems like the lack of space in school and the lack of staff to supervise the room are some of their main difficulties.
“We’re trying to make sure that not only is there a location, but also that there is supervision available. What has made it really difficult is that, in our school, every space is almost being used,” Torres said. “We’re also in the middle of needing subs, so we don’t have subs and not enough aides.”
In addition, the club and administrators are facing issues with school policies and whether the school is able to permit students to leave their classes for personal matters.
“When things like this are requested, we need to make sure if they’re going to happen, they’re happening outside of a student’s classes, so that their academics are not impacted by that,” Torres said. “At the same time, we want to listen to our students and see what ideas they might have, or what needs they might have that we could maybe support within the parameters that are provided for us.”
Despite these problems, the club and administration have maintained a positive mindset and are making steady progress to make this happen for the students.
“When our students are asking for a space to be who they are and to acknowledge their own existence within our schools, our job is to listen to our students and to help them be able to be who they are,” Torres said. “We will try and find ways that it can be done in a manner that is supportive of our students.”
Jui Bhatia can be reached at [email protected]
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