Photo by Lindsay MacMillan
The University of Ottawa Muslim Students Association (UOMSA) has won a small victory in a fight to acquire more religious space on campus.
In a statement on their Facebook page, the group said they will be acquiring an ablution space by this coming fall in the University Centre.
It will be located in the hallway right next to the first entrance door of the Multifaith Prayer Space, which will lose eight or nine square metres to make way for the ablution space, according to the statement.
Muslims are required to perform ablution, an act of washing oneself, before every one of the five daily prayers.
Muslim students at the U of O have been using the washrooms in the UCU for ablution, but the infrastructure isn’t suitable, according to Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) president Anne-Marie Roy.
“This is definitely an issue we’ve been pressuring the university on for a number of years,” said Roy.
“While we’re happy with these small victories, I think we’ll have to recognize that the University of Ottawa is definitely lacking and not respecting the Ontario Human Rights Code when it comes to religious accommodations.”
Roy said she suggested the university add the ablution space when she found out the UCU would be undergoing renovations for a new dining hall.
“Since we’re already doing plumbing work in the UCU why don’t we also include an ablution space on the first floor?” she said.
The SFUO doesn’t have an estimated cost yet because architects are still working on the project, she said.
In a statement, the U of O said the proposal has yet to be approved by the University Centre management board. The UOMSA declined to provide further comment until discussions wrap up.
Roy said it is certain that the Board will accept the proposal, and they’re already working with food services so their plumbing renovations include an ablution space.
The UOMSA has lobbied the university to acquire more religious space throughout the year, including submitting a motion to the general assembly calling for a prayer space on the south side of campus.
The motion didn’t pass because the assembly failed to meet quorum, and was tabled to the next Board of Administration meeting in December, where it was passed.