Meditation Room proposed at Mesa



Yolanda Landow and Weezy Gardner meditate during a Midwest Moon Sangha gathering at the Wehrli Chapel on the Webster Groves campus in St. Louis on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. The meditation session was followed by a quiet walking portion and concluded with second portion of sitting. (Roberto Rodriguez/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

Shane O'Connell, Staff Writer

At last week’s Academic Senate meeting Judy Sundayo, the Committee for Diversity Action, Inclusion, & Equity (CDAIE) chair, introduced a proposal for a “Meditation/Reflection” room to be added on campus. Sundayo reasoned that providing a “Meditation/Reflection” room for our students would support our diverse student body while helping our students develop their capacity for self-understanding.

Along with many colleges throughout the state, campuses like SDSU and UCSD have “meditation” or “contemplation” rooms that students flock to for a bit of peace and quiet for much needed R&R.   The plan at Mesa is to have a 400 square foot, sparsely decorated and furnished room for students to study quietly, meditate, pray, reflect or practice yoga.

One senator proposed an outside, flowered garden area instead of a quiet room, citing Southern California’s usually sunny weather as the perfect place for relaxation.

While much of the room tempered their opinion on the matter, some senators expressed interesting concerns against the installation of a room specifically set aside for spiritual or religious practices as, in general, public universities do not engage in supporting religion on their campuses.

Many senators felt that if a room be set up, it should only be referred to as a, “quiet room,” as setting aside only one room for meditation/prayer could imply that students shouldn’t feel free to practice their religions anywhere else on campus. This would go against the cultural and globally minded image Mesa’s leaders have strived to cultivate here. Any student, be it their prerogative, should be permitted to worship any deity they choose, anywhere they choose.

In another justified objection, Senator Greenberg purposed that a designated prayer room could attract unwanted attention from extremists, “looking to make a statement.”

Questions regarding how the space would be monitored and maintained, if there would be limits on time spent there, and how it would be funded were raised.

Professor Sundayo will soon be presenting the proposed idea to the President’s Cabinet for final consideration.