Queen’s Muslim Students’ Association describes experiences with inaccessible prayer spaces

AMS Clubs Commissioner discusses efforts to provide inclusive space

Faith and spiritual life interfaith room is located in Mitchell Hall.
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Queen’s University Muslim Students’ Association (QUMSA) is raising concerns about inaccessible prayer spaces on campus.

QUMSA is attempting to set up a designated prayer room in the Rideau Building, given the current JDUC—which was previously used for club space—renovations.

They’re on waiting for renovations to finish the room. Currently, they’re using the KCVI gym as a temporary prayer space but have experienced issues with cleanliness.

“It’s very disheartening to go into the Rideau building to just get things in and out of storage and see other clubs [setting] up and running,” Mayy Mounib, co-chair of QUMSA, said in an interview with The Journal.

“It felt like we were literally the only club that didn’t have their space available to them.”

Mounib said her last communication with the AMS about this issue was on Sept. 7. The email was addressed to multiple clubs announcing which ones would be able to access their spaces and those that could not. QUMSA was told their space would not be opening in September.

“I definitely think we’ve been left a little bit in the dark about it […] it’s always up to us to initiate some kind of email asking about updates,” Mounib said.

Mounib sent several emails asking about their space, and the most recent response explained the area would not be ready due to labour shortages.

Mounib and Siddiqui said the prayer space is one of their core pillars of programming at QUMSA.

“Congregational prayer is a really good way of building community because it’s something that is done together. It’s just a different experience than just praying by yourself,” Mounib said.

Mounib said the base requirements for a suitable prayer room are a big space with carpet, which is quiet, and has the possibility of dividing the room into two—one side for men and the other for women.

These features are important to QUMSA and Islamic prayer because it affords them privacy and allows individuals to feel comfortable being vulnerable on campus.

Mounib said one issue with the temporary use of interfaith rooms is the fear of judgment.

 “You’re praying in a space where anyone can see you if they walk by, and that can lead to fear, judgment and just a sense of vulnerability.”

She explained the dedicated prayer space in the JDUC acted as a space to fulfill their religious obligations of daily prayer five times a day and as a safe space where you could enter a room and feel at home.

In an interview with The Journal, AMS Clubs Commissioner Rob Hughes said clubs that previously functioned out of the JDUC were assigned spaces in either the Rideau Building or LaSalle.

He said club spaces are assigned through an application process that outlines the club description and why they need a certain space.

“It’s a very procedural process, giving up closed spaces, so all the club spaces signed for this year were assigned by last year’s staff,” Hughes said.  

They provide the same list for next year's spaces based on recommendations formed by the Assistant Commissioner of Clubs.

Hughes said QUMSA has been allocated the biggest space in the Rideau building and explained how the AMS did their best to find a space that would work for them based on the circumstances.

He acknowledged help received from external services at Queen’s, like the ARC, which allowed QUMSA to book rooms there.

“I’m very thankful for Athletics to step in and help where we weren’t able to. Really, at the end of the day, losing the JDUC was a major blow. We’re doing what we can, but we can’t always do everything,” Hughes said.

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