A joint initiative is underway at UTSA to create a meditation room on campus. The room, when it comes into effect will be available to all UTSA students for prayer or meditation.
Student Government Association President, Andrew Hubbard, is one in support of this initiative and is working to get it done. Hubbard says that he and the SGA are part of the collaborative team spearheaded by Colonel Firmin, the Associate Provost for Diversity and Recruitment, to ensure “there is spiritual inclusiveness on campus, no matter what ethnicity, what religion, that you come to UTSA you feel like home.”
With UTSA having a diverse population, president Hubbard reminds us that “Inclusiveness is key.” On campus, many need to observe their faith and beliefs in different ways and designating a meditation and prayer space is one way the university can help students balance religion and study. “We want to make sure that every student is able to utilize this space for its intended purpose, we are looking to build an environment that is consistent with other top tier universities who have similar spaces on their campus,” says Hubbard.
The effort has also seen a strong support from Muslim students on campus. Noor Razeq, an officer of the Muslim Student Association, explains “I think it would be beneficial, not only for Muslims on campus but for anyone who just needs a quiet room to take some time away from all the clutter of life and just pray.”
As of right now, UTSA does provide rooms, either for individual students or student organizations and there are rooms in the University Center that can be used by individual students on a walk in basis, however, because prayer for many students is a daily necessity, a room set aside specifically for observance is a welcome solution. As Razeq says, “We pray five times a day, the times vary but the prayers usually take about three to five minutes. With a busy college schedule, it is often difficult for students to find a quiet space where they can pray on campus.
That busyness is what motivates outgoing UTSA student Alyssa Gonzales to support the initiative. For her, college life is hectic and fast-paced, so the importance of taking care of your mental health can’t be understated. “Your brain is a muscle,” she says, “it needs some down time and by having a space to slow down, you can give it the rest it needs.”