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The Blue & Gray Press | February 18, 2018

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Meditation Room Opens Quietly

Meditation Room Opens Quietly

The James Farmer Multicultural Center announced the opening of a meditation space on campus, located on the second floor of the Hamlet House.

The space, which opened Oct. 15, consists of two rooms and is specifically designated for any UMW student to meditate or pray, regardless of faith or belief.

Marion Sanford, director of multicultural student affairs, said a focus group suggested the idea for a quiet space about a year ago.

“The James Farmer Multicultural Center then took the lead, trying to determine how to create the atmosphere,” Sanford said.

The Meditation Space’s brochure said it intends to provide a supportive and spiritually nourishing environment for students from all backgrounds and cultures to pray, reflect, and relax.

To accommodate multiple students, two rooms were designated for meditation.

“If someone is praying in one room and someone else wants to meditate and not disturb the other person who is praying, a second room is available,” Sanford said.

Group prayer or club meetings are not allowed in the meditation rooms. In addition, students must submit a user agreement form before their first time using the space, according to the brochure.

The James Farmer Multicultural Center issues an access code to students so they may enter the meditation room. Students must also abide by a list of rules available on the center’s homepage.

Some students, like senior Isabel McLoughlin, aren’t sure they would use the meditation space.

“The idea of meditating in a space that is sort of public doesn’t appeal to me,” McLoughlin said.

However, sophomore Calvin Robinson said the space encourages diversity among religions.

“I support the meditation space because it has a bigger connotation than meditation,” Robinson said.

Sophomore Hallie Feingold, secretary of the Jewish Student Association/Hillel, is very excited about the opening of the meditation space.

“Our presidents informed us last week about the meditation space, its attributes and how to go about getting access to it,” Feingold said. “They also informed us that there are Jewish Prayer Books available, which is a big plus for observant Jews on this campus.”

The center did not aim the meditation space towards specific clubs or religious organizations on campus, according to junior Mandi Solomon, one of the Jewish Student Association/Hillel presidents.

“The [center] talked to all the multicultural groups about using the space for personal meditation,” Solomon said. “It was not directed at our organization any more than the other multicultural groups.”

Sophomore Kellan Latif, a member of the Islamic Student Association, has recently started using the meditation space.

“The multicultural center’s main goal is to promote diversity,” Latif said. “No other association affiliated with the school does this, so I commend the multicultural center for doing this for the students.”

When asked if she thought the multicultural center created the space to make Mary Washington appear more diverse, Latif said the center did not.

Latif especially likes the decorations of the rooms.

“There are gold curtains and pillows…and the walls are purple,” she said.

The meditation space is available for use from 5 a.m. to midnight every day of the week.