Amongst JDUC redevelopment plans, The Journal sat down with the Queen’s University Muslim Students Association (QUMSA) to discuss measures to ensure the preservation of prayer spaces in the building. QUMSA provides students with religious services, community events, and advocacy.
The MusAllah, currently located in JDUC room 232, is a dedicated Muslim prayer space. Hanya Kaoud, QUMSA president and ArtSci ’22, is currently leading the charge to preserve it.
The JDUC renovations, which were recently postponed until May 2022, are set to cost $62.3 million. The brunt of the costs will be paid for through student fees.
“Prayer is vital to every practicing Muslim’s life,” Kaoud said in an interview with The Journal.
“Often between classes, Muslims will go complete one of their five mandatory prayers and head on immediately to their next class. Having open access to open prayer spaces in the past has helped make that easier on us.”
According to Kaoud, QUMSA members, were told in their communications with the AMS over the summer there won’t be a guaranteed prayer space post-renovations in the JDUC, despite promises made by Team RTZ during the May AMS Assembly.
“In the AMS Assembly in May, we were told that it would be a priority, and it’s something that would be guaranteed,” Kaoud said. “However, I’ve not seen any follow-up or documentation of such.”
With concerns of potentially losing prayer space in the JDUC, along with difficulties accessing existing prayer spaces, Kaoud and QUMSA have “been trying to facilitate the reopening of prayer spaces around campus in general.”
“We’re focused on what’s available now, which has been difficult, but in terms of the redevelopment plan, there hasn’t been much follow-up on that part,” Kaoud said.
QUMSA is in communication with administration to assist in the preservation of prayer spaces around campus. The club has been able to get Friday prayers up and running following their halt during COVID-19, but progress has been limited in facilities overlooked by the AMS.
QUMSA has, however, received assistance from Queen’s administration.
“We are to get support from the Human Rights and Equity Office and the Faith and Spiritual unit, so I do want to say that there are parts of the university that have been helpful in facilitating that,” Kaoud said.
“We’ve been able to communicate more and make more progress with those two offices […], but in terms of with the AMS, it’s a bit of a different situation.”
Although QUMSA has been in communication with the AMS regarding existing prayer spaces, it hasn’t been the club’s main focus.
“We’ve just been trying to get prayer spaces running this semester, so the JDUC spaces would be part of that, but it’s not something that we focus 80 per cent of our time on,” Kaoud said.
The AMS did not respond to The Journal’s request for comment in time for publication.
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