September 19, 2019

Students advocate for campus prayer room

(Webster Groves, MO) Webster University student Samih Abdeljabbar spent the semester praying in Emerson Library study rooms. Abdeljabbar prays up to five times a day in the library.

Abdeljabbar uses the study rooms in the library because he said they provide quietness and privacy. Abdeljabbar estimates approximately 30 Muslim students like himself use study rooms to pray.

Abdeljabbar prays at 5:30 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 6:00 p.m.

“A lot of the times when we are trying to pray, none of the study rooms are open,” Abdeljabbar said.

Members of the Webster University Student Government Association (SGA), in conjunction with the Muslim Student Association (MSA), plan to provide accommodations for students like Abdeljabbar with a multi-faith prayer and meditation room.  

Saint Louis University, Washington University, Fontbonne University, Maryville University and the University of Missouri St. Louis all provide students with prayer rooms.

Abdeljabbar helped build a prayer room at St. Louis Community College’s (STLCC) Meramec campus. He attended STLCC Meramec for one year before transferring to Webster.

According to Abdeljabbar, the approximate 30 Muslim students on campus pray in groups of three in the available study rooms.

“They’re too cramped,” Abdeljabbar said. “Praying together increases our faith. It builds a community.”

Abdeljabbar said he hopes the MSA and SGA can work together to create a space where people of all faiths feel welcome. The organizations collected input from students by distributing a survey earlier this month.

“We wanted to hear students’ voices to make Webster a better place for everyone,” SGA Senator Kezia Onsang said.

The 2018-19 SGA contains members from four continents. The members said they wanted to use their international and multi-faith perspectives to improve Webster this school year.

SGA Secretary Sammy Rammaha blamed past SGA shortcomings on lack of diversity.

“I was hoping our differences would bring us together,” Rammaha said. “Immigrants making it here always makes me happy.”

Vladimir Radojkovic leads SGA as President. Radojkovic hoped to improve SGA’s diversity this semester. He encouraged SGA voters to elect Fayeshun Brown, an African American woman, as vice president.    

“I think it’s important to gain a global perspective,” Radojkovic said.

The internationally led SGA and MSA hope to have the multi-faith prayer and meditation room on campus before the end of the semester.  The two groups plan to put the space in the East Academic Building, according to Abdeljabbar.

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