Starting this fall NSU students, especially students of faith, are invited to a new space on campus for faith-based clubs and organizations. The Interfaith Room will be used as a location for organizations, faith-based gatherings and for students looking for a space to reflect. Located on the third floor of the Student Affairs Building, this space will be shared equally between all clubs and organizations with a smaller attached room specifically designed for Muslim students as a place of prayer.
The Interfaith Room was designed with the help of Erin Sicker, executive assistant to the vice president of student affairs, dean of the college of undergraduate studies Brad Williams and Michelle Manley, interim assistant dean of student development. Manley and Sicker worked together to decorate the space and create a welcoming environment.
“We tried to [create] a warm, welcoming and inviting space. We didn’t want it to be cold and sterile and we had to make sure that no one religion was represented over another,” said Sicker.
The room is outfitted with a kitchen, including a refrigerator, microwave and cabinets. There are also shelving units, cubbies and other storage containers within the room so students can make the room their own. “There are six six-foot tables and 48 folding chairs so students can use them [to accomodate] groups. All the furniture is multi-functional and will focus more on the corners of the room so students have the option to rearrange [the room] in any way they want,” said Sicker.
In the past, students of faith would have to reserve rooms and other areas around campus to pray and hold services like the so-called “prayer corner” in a small hallway of the library for muslim students or the other Inter-Faith room in the HPD.
“We would pray on Fridays and have sermons and prayers called Khutbahs. So we needed to carpool over to [HPD] and it became difficult to orchestrate,” said Uzma Jamil, president of IMAN.
According to Merlee Mallat, president of Ablaze, a non-denominational Christian organization on campus, “being dedicated to one’s faith in a secular environment can be a challenge, but it is so much easier when one has access to resources like [the Interfaith room].”
Although its intended purpose is for religious groups, this new space is open to all students, faith-related or otherwise.
According to Miriam Mahmoud, general member of IMAN, “It didn’t only open up a small room for IMAN but, it opened up a space to the student body to have a place to go. That’s why we call it the Interfaith room; where students can have somewhere on campus to go and feel safe and peaceful.”
Throughout the process, many religious groups were able to collaborate. The Hillel Center of Broward, an organization focused on Jewish life on local college campuses, renovated the space right next door to the Interfaith room. In Jamil’s view, it brought together that community that NSU is always advertising and emphasizing in way of campus diversity. “This [new space] is NSU”.
Other clubs are also excited about this new space and the connections and relationships it can foster within NSU. “Delight is always looking for a new place to come together to foster relationships together, be vulnerable with one another and grow in our faith together, and this room provides a comfortable place to do so. We can’t wait to begin using it,” said Hannah Farley, president of Delight, a Christian women’s group on campus.
In the future, Hillel of Broward County and Palm Beach will also open a small study space open for students in the coming weeks. Both these spaces will be open to all students to study and relax in a stress-free environment.
Students interested in using the space for religious meetings and other events can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve with specified times and dates. For non faith-based students interested in using or visiting the space, the availability will be posted daily outside the main door for easy access.