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Giving faith a place with space

By Beza Getachew

With the opening of the new multifaith space last Thurday, faith-based groups on campus now have a new place to hold events and activities at 111 Gerrard St. E.

Apart from a stack of chairs, a few coat racks and a bookshelf with copies of the Bible, Quran and other religious texts, the new space is relatively empty. But it’s a step up from the cramped stuffy rooms inside Oakham House that many of the groups used to occupy, said fourth-year business student Japheth Kang.

Kang is the chair of the Chinese Christian Fellowship, which he said has 35 members on average attending weekly meetings inside Oakham.

“It gets tight and there’s not too much breathing space,” he said.

“At least with this (new) space we have more room and windows we can open.” The launch comes after the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) passed a motion at the November 2012 Semi-Annual General Meeting to help faith-based groups gain more campus space. But Julia Hanigsberg, vice-president administration and finance, notes in her opening address that there were “many meetings and discussions” and that this is “not a fix but a temporary solution” to the space issue.

Amer Choudhury, vice-president of Ryerson’s Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), said they currently use classrooms and a meeting room on the third floor of the Student Campus Centre to hold their meetings and small events.

“It’s actually pretty packed, especially more towards the evening where a lot of people go when classes end,” said Choudhury. “You have people waiting outside.” Choudhury said he personally doesn’t think he’ll use the new multi-faith space for prayer, but it is an alternative that the MSA may consider.

“It’s quite suitable for small events and anything we do weekly wise… we’re quite active,” he said.

Niranjalee Croos, a first-year chemistry student and member of the Catholic Student’s Association, said her group has never had issues with space because they use less of the designated multi-faith spaces on campus by attending mass at nearby churches.

Croos said that until now she didn’t know the building the multifaith space is in “was a part of Ryerson.” Although her group may use the space for events in the future, she said they don’t mind travelling to nearby churches for prayers.

The opening of a new multi-faith space happened because of a collaboration between the RSU and Hanigsberg’s office. Starting this week groups are able to book the space, by visiting the RSU’s main office.

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