Spaces for Prayer, Mediation and Reflection at NC State

Introduction

NC State’s interfaith prayer and meditation rooms are meant to serve and support all students and the holistic wellness of the university community, as scientific evidence demonstrates significant cognitive and physiological benefits of meditation. The spaces allow individuals of all religious faiths and non-religious beliefs to experience a place for peace, prayer, meditation and/or reflection throughout the day. The spaces are intended for individual use and not for any organized group activity or meetings. The interfaith prayer and meditation rooms are not reservable and are available for individual students to use whenever the campus building is open.

The Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity has partnered with NC State Libraries and Engineering to accommodate the needs of students. Spaces are set aside for prayer, meditation or quiet reflection by individuals. A few chairs and prayer rugs are available for use. Please review the usage guidelines for the Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Spaces at NC State.

Providing safe, semi-private space for spiritual and religious activities is one of the simplest but most vital forms of support NC State offers its students. To provide comments, suggestions or feedback about this space, please visit go.ncsu.edu/interfaithspace to complete our user survey.

Spaces

The interfaith prayer and meditation space is located in room 204 in Witherspoon Student Center on Cates Avenue near Dan Allen Drive. The space is open throughout the day to individuals within the campus community who seek a quiet place for prayer or mediation.
 

The prayer and meditation space located in the Erdahl-Cloyd Wing of D.H. Hill Library near the Hillsborough Street entrance.

The Multicultural Student Affairs office located in 4261 Talley Student Union is open throughout the day to individuals within the campus community who seek a quiet place for prayer or mediation.

On Centennial Campus, there are temporary spaces in Engineering Building II on 890 Oval Drive. These spaces are located on the ground floor across from Room B220 and on the third floor across from Room 3001B.
 

History

The Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity has requested the creation of a permanent space on both main and centennial campus to serve as an Interfaith Prayer and Meditation/Reflection Space for students. The space would provide a convenient opportunity for individual students and small groups of students to gather for prayer, mediation and/or reflection throughout the day and in between their classes. In addition, it would promote active dialogue and exchange around topics related to spirituality, while also serving to recognize the religious and spiritual needs and diversity among our students.

The University’s Strategic Plan (Goal 1: Enhance the success of our students through educational innovation) asserts efforts to “increase geographic diversity by enrolling more out-of-state and international students.” Currently, our student body includes students from 119 foreign countries. Currently, the majority of our students are from China. Religion in China is characterized by pluralism. In addition, data compiled by University Planning and Analysis showed that 23% of our students are secular, non-religious, agnostic or atheist as it relates to spirituality (supporting a meditation/reflection space). Some of the international student recruitment efforts led by the Office of Admissions include Dubai and similar cities/countries, where Islam or a non-Christian religion is the official state religion. As we strive for our student body to grow in terms of geographic diversity and are competing against other colleges/universities, we must be accommodating to support students within and outside of the classroom. Individuals view religion differently, however for some it a significant part of their identity and deemed “a way of life.” The goal of the Interfaith Prayer and Meditation/Reflection Space is to support the range of needs of undergraduate and graduate students.

 

Spaces at Other Institutions

Interfaith prayer and meditation spaces are not foreign to college campuses. Below, you will find a list of key and peer institutions. As you will note, 50% or 9 out of the 18 institutions have an interfaith prayer space or a Muslim specific space. A few of the institutions have both.

 

Key and Peer Institutions

Clemson University**
Colorado State University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Iowa State University**
Michigan State University*
Ohio State University*
Penn State University – Main Campus **
Purdue University – Main Campus
Rutgers University**
Texas A&M University
University of Arizona
University of California-Davis
University of Florida *
University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign
University of Maryland-College Park
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill*
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Virginia Polytechnic and State University**
*Have interfaith spaces
** Have Muslim specific spaces

 

Recommendations

As a result of dialogue within our campus community and colleagues around the nation the following suggestions have been made to increase the usefulness of a permanent space.
  • Centralized location to campus
  • Placement of the door in the space is important to assure that it would be to the rear of the room for those praying to the east.
  • In close proximity to a restroom where an ablution station could be added
  • Not reservable (this is not a space for a formal service or study groups to meet)
  • Open, non-locked space
  • No religious insignia
  • Carpeting that has or creates lines across the room (to assist easily with separation of prayer by gender and removes the need for prayer mats or floor cushions in most cases)
  • Moveable seating
  • Shelving and/or moveable cabinets might also be added to the space

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