Ryerson aims to keep the faith with students
By Sara Marett
Ryerson Polytechnic University will christen a new Multifaith Centre today with a little help from the Mega mayor.
Mel Lastman will cut the ribbon on the new centre, which will house events held by the university's various religious groups.
Located in Ryerson's business building, the centre was created after students on campus expressed the need for a permanent place to hold meetings, prayer sessions or study groups, said Leatrice Spevack, campus groups administrator for Ryerson's Student Administrative Council.
"We've had students praying in stairwells," she said, adding religious groups had to book a room somewhere on campus if they wanted to hold an event. "It would always be switched around and did not make for a welcoming environment for students."
The centre's establishment was completely a student initiative, Spevack said. "It was really heartwarming to see students from different faiths and cultures work together to accomplish something."
Although it might be premature to say there won't be any problems between the groups using the centre, Spevack said she is optimistic things will run smoothly. "I think the will of the students to have it work is strong."
The idea of having one place for all religious groups may be something Western students could also benefit from, said University Students' Council President Ryan Parks. "It might help students from different faiths if they were given the opportunity to understand and recognize the differences within various religions."
He added the idea of having different religious and cultural groups work together is not unprecedented at Western. "We have a equity round table group that meets to discuss issues like this."
Elana Lavine, president of Western's Jewish Students' Union, said Ryerson's centre sets a good example for other universities to follow. "There is a very rich mosaic of people that come to this school and to give students that kind of religious freedom would make them feel more comfortable," she said.
Lavine added a similar centre at Western would only improve relations between the school's various religious groups. "It would rely on cooperation from different groups and that would definitely have positive effects."
Western's Muslim Students' Association president Hani Abid agreed that a multifaith centre would be beneficial at Western, but pointed out that different religions have different practices.
The Islamic faith, for example, requires individuals to pray five times a day, he said. The MSA currently has a prayer room located in University College that they use for prayer and study groups.