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Ohio State student leaders call for ‘prayer mats, comfortable flooring’ for interfaith room

Student government leaders at Ohio State University are calling for “prayer mats” and “comfortable flooring” for the university’s Interfaith Prayer and Reflection Room.

Ohio State’s student government unanimously passed a resolution recently asking campus administrators for the provisions, calling it a “serious need.” The resolution also seeks “floor cushions.”

While the room is open to students of all faiths, a recent visit by a College Fix reporter found five Qurans and zero Bibles. The venue also boasts an Ablution room, which allows for ceremonial washing. In the Muslim faith, believers wash before prayer.

Six organizations listed in the resolution threw their support behind adding the prayer rugs and floor cushions, also used primarily by Muslims.

The student groups in support of the flooring are: the Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort, Buddhist Study and Practice Group, Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association, Muslim Students Association, Sikh Students Association, and the Christian Bible study and Fellowship group.

“The purpose of this resolution is to show the administration that having religious accommodations, like prayer mats, are supported by multiple faith groups and by the student body,” Senator Anthony Buss, the student government’s director of diversity and inclusion, said in an email to The College Fix.

As of today, there is no conclusive list of groups that utilize the interfaith room. Buss and his fellow senators are hopeful that they will be able to “work with the Union to advertise the room better in the future, because as of now the room isn’t advertised very well for that purpose,” he told The Fix via email.

Just last August, Ohio State terrorist perpetrator Abdul Artan complained to the campus newspaper The Lantern that he did not want to pray in the open. Artan was featured in the “Humans of Ohio State” segment where he lamented: “This place is huge, I don’t even know where to pray.”

Buss declined to specifically answer the question of which religion needs prayer mats and told The Fix that it’s “better to phrase it that students of multiple faith groups would require/use prayer mats.”

“We have had several meetings [with administrators] and all have gone really well,” Buss said. “The administration wants us to get more specifics on student need regarding this matter and we will continue from there.”

MORE: Christian university to send students to mosque for ‘religious experience’

MORE: University of Kansas maintains women’s-only lunchroom for Muslims

MORE: Meditation rooms or makeshift mosque? U. of Iowa prayer spaces draw scrutiny, criticism

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About the Author
Amanda Tidwell -- The Ohio State University