By Shannon Higgins
The Ryerson Ismaili Student Association (RIMSA) wants to convert a newly-vacated room in Oakham House into another multi-faith room, and they have support from an executive with the Ryerson Students’ Union.
Used as an office until this year, room D is across the hallway from the current multi-faith room and seems like an obvious solution for overcrowding issues, said Alif Dharssi, president of RIMSA.
“Last Tuesday I talked to [RSU VP Student Life and Events] Abe [Snobar] about getting the room for the rest of the year,” he said.
The multi-faith room is the only space on campus set aside for students to pray in. However, the small room can’t be reserved for groups to use privately. Faith groups have to co-ordinate, and it doesn’t always work.
Dharssi wants to book the room for an hour Monday to Thursday evenings for group prayer. Unfortunately for him, groups can’t book rooms consecutively.
He suggested that one room be bookable while the other remains open. RIMSA members have complained about interruptions while they are praying, and Dharssi hopes booking in advance will solve the problem.
“It’s a perfect time to bring up room D as a discussion point,” Snobar said. “My aim is to secure room D as another multi-faith room.” He also said he plans to bring the motion to the Student Centre Committee meeting tentatively scheduled for this week.
Hussain Bandali, another RIMSA member, said Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) members often leave their belongings in the multi-faith room. This makes it difficult to use the room as their own.
“It’s like we’re borrowing their room. In a perfect world, this room would have nothing in it,” he said, referring to MSA posters taped to the walls.
MSA representative Mohammad Malik agrees that the current situation is not working.
“That space isn’t even big enough for us,” he said.
Malik suggested that space should be given to groups based on their numbers and that having room D as a bookable multi-faith room would help.
The MSA is one of the largest student groups on campus, with hundreds of members, while RIMSA has expanded to 100 members and is still growing.
Bandali said the conflict is not with the MSA, but with the lack of space. “We want to work together, but it’s difficult with the facilities,” he said. “We need more access to space.”
Snobar wants the multi-faith council to help work out the details. Made up of representatives from each Ryerson faith group and chaired by RSU President Nora Loreto, the council works to keep faith relations at Ryerson running smoothly.
Loreto said that more research needs to be done before a decision is made. “This is a much bigger issue. We need to actually examine who exactly is using the multi-faith room…there needs to be a broader solution in a holistic way.”
She said the council should have consultations with all the religious groups and that the Student Centre Committee should consider the needs of other non-faith based groups that are also suffering for space.
“Hopefully we [can have] a meeting next week so we can work things out,” Snobar said.