USC reverses decision on Muslims
By Mark Brown
The University Students' Council have reversed their position from two weeks ago prohibiting Muslim students from booking space in the University Community Centre for prayer.
Problems began when Muslim students, including Muslim Students' Association President Hussein Hamdani, were told by UCC reservations and the USC Board of Directors that they were not allowed to book space because of a policy.
"This has been an issue of broken telephone right from the get-go we had our lines crossed," said Ian Armour, USC president.
Armour said he thought there was a policy prohibiting religious expression in the University Community Centre, but later discovered this was not the case. "I realized that I was incorrect I was providing misinformation.
"I apologized to Hussein because he couldn't get a direct answer." Armour added.
Muslim students felt as though they were getting the run around for the last two weeks, explained Hamdani.
"Every USC board member had a different opinion about what the policy was. Some were correct, some where wrong," Hamdani said. "In fact, there is no policy on religious expression."
Hamdani added Muslim students were looking for a clear answer and now that they have an answer they will be happy to work with it. "The chapter is closed," he said.
Peter Hill, USC VP-campus issues, said the discussion between both parties helped influence the USC's course of action. "The USC is happy the matter is put to rest and can get back to continuing the best relations we've had [with Muslim students] in years," Hill added.
While it has been agreed Muslim students have the right to book conference rooms for prayer, the issues of abiding by fire code and the movement of furniture out of the rooms still remains.
The USC has given the MSA the option to book Room 40 of the UCC for their prayer sessions which has more space and furniture does not have to be removed from the room, Armour said.
Hill said he would still support the MSA if they wish to approach the Campus and Community Affairs Committee to set aside space for Muslim students for their Sabbath prayer sessions on Fridays. "At this point it is up to them to decide if there is a necessity [to approach the CCAC] at this time."
Currently the MSA has no intention of pursuing this matter with the CCAC, explained Jaafer Haidar, public affairs commissioner for the MSA. There is talk about creating a multifaith room, but the MSA is not considering this as a viable option.
Hamdani said the MSA is more concerned about getting their space in University College, Room 214, considered as permanent.