'Pray-in' raises awareness about new MU reflection space

Students joined together to demonstrate the space's true purpose

Students raised awareness about the new Memorial Union Interfaith Reflection Room and its proper utilization with a ‘pray-in’ Monday night.

Emergency Pray-In: Reclaiming the MU Prayer and Meditation Space’ was an initiative crafted by students and Sun Devils Are Better Together

The event called for students of all backgrounds and faiths to come together and demonstrate the true purpose of the space through a ‘pray-in.’

Students have documented and contacted Memorial Union staff about fellow members of the ASU community misusing the room and its individual prayer rooms as a silent study area or place to socialize and eat meals.


Samantha Hill, the vice president of Sun Devils are Better Together, said the group began pursuing solutions as soon as they were notified of the space's misuse. 

Hill, a junior studying psychology and global studies, said students have been working with University administration to monitor the room.

“The administration has been coming down to check in and make people aware of what the space is supposed to be,” Hill said.

According to the event’s Facebook page, following the completion of the Memorial Union’s renovations this semester, the space was opened with no signage to specify its purpose or nobody was given the authority to ensure its proper use, adding to the problem.

An error with the signs delayed their arrival, but temporary signs have been put up, Hill said.

After the pray-in, there was a planning session to compose a list of requests and suggestions to correctly maintain the space. These points will be compiled and brought to ASU administration and staff, and other groups or individuals involved, for discussion. 

Michele Grab, the Executive Director of the Memorial Union and Student Pavilion, said administration has been taking student feedback regarding the Prayer and Meditation Space since its beginning stages.

“Giving people a space where they can have a few minutes of quiet reflection and prayer is a really great opportunity for our campus,” Grab said. “It’s something that we’re really proud to be able to do.”

The solution to preventing future misuse of the room lies with the students, Grab said.

“Seeing students use the space in the way it was designed is going to send the message to the community,” Grab said.

Melanie "M.J." Anderson, a global studies and political science sophomore, said the space is important for all members of the community.

Having a space on-campus where students can address their spirituality or mental state is another step forward in ASU becoming a more inclusive university, Anderson said.

"Sometimes people don't take the charter seriously," Anderson said. "Including these students and giving them a space to fully express themselves is one way that we can support their identity. That is being inclusive."

Reach the reporter at Kimberly.Rapanut@asu or follow @kimrapanut on Twitter

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