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University of Nevada, Reno agrees in principle to have an interfaith prayer room



unr-interfaith-prayer-room-meeting-with-officials-600x240-1281744-6068662University of Nevada, Reno agreed last week in principle to have an interfaith prayer room.

In a meeting with a group of campus student religious leaders and area clergy, UNR President Marc A. Johnson said the interfaith prayer room was a good idea and they would like to have it.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has commended UNR for accepting the longstanding need of students of an interfaith prayer room and thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. It was a step in the right direction, Zed added.

Many universities in USA and Canada already have prayer/meditation rooms/chapels for quiet reflection and spiritual exercise.

Johnson asked the group to let him know their needs and said they would look for the space. He pointed out that they wanted to move forward on it, take action and explore the idea further. Besides short-term solution to it, old Getchell Library building could be a long-term possibility and he would talk to the designers to include a prayer-room into its future design, Johnson added.

The UNR president further said that university would try to find space for it and work out specifications and parameters; make sure that it was a safe place and figure out space needs, size, scheduling and other rules. He appointed Director Diversity Initiatives Reginald Chhen Stewart to explore the idea further in collaboration with the group.

Johnson remarked that following a single faith was good but cross-religion knowledge would create ambassadors of peace coming out of the university. Besides other learning, people came to universities for spiritual development also.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism and Director Interfaith Relations of Nevada Clergy Association, stressed during the meeting: “With the presence of prayer room, UNR students would have a spiritually meaningful life in addition to material success after they graduate from here.” A prayer room would be another feather in UNR’s cap in making it a world class educational institution, Zed added.

The group presented a letter to Johnson, asking for centrally located “UNR Interfaith Prayer Room,” which, it said, “will be a ‘house of prayer for all peoples’ and open to people of all religions and denominations and no religion, for prayer, reflection, meditation and dialogue.” “Friends of UNR Interfaith Prayer Room” comprising of area religious leaders and campus student leaders of diverse traditions will augment and support the maintenance and operation of the UNR interfaith prayer room, it added. In an earlier signed letter to Johnson, area religious leaders and campus student leaders belonging to Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i, Pagan, etc., traditions, urged for provision of an interfaith prayer-room.

University officials, besides Johnson, who attended this meeting, included Executive Vice President Heather K. Hardy, Vice President Student Services Shannon Ellis, Associate Vice President Student Life Services Gerald Marczynski, Director Joe Crowley Student Union Charles Price and Stewart. Area religious leaders present were Nicholas F. Frey, Rajan Zed, Sherif A. Elfass and Stephen Child; and campus student leaders included Sarah Canak, Anthony Hemmert, Sumayya Beekun and Elliot Malin.

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