Students fight for Muslim prayer facility

May 17, 2008

For the last four weeks, Muslim students at the city campus of RMIT have been protesting the university administration's decision to convert the newly built Muslim prayer room into another multi-faith centre. Muslim students have held their Friday prayers in congregation in an open public space, to demonstrate their need for a dedicated Muslim prayer facility.

In one week, 1100 signatures from Muslims and non-Muslims were collected petitioning against the multi-faith centre proposal. So far, the administration has chosen to ignore the large protests of more than 400 students.

For decades, the campus had prayer rooms for Muslim students, including separate rooms for males and females. In 2005 Muslim students pointed out that the existing rooms were too small and unsafe to use. In 2006/07, RMIT approved a new proposal to design and build a replacement Muslim prayer room.

On March 18 word broke out that RMIT had broken its promise to build a bigger Muslim prayer room and had instead decided to make it a multi-faith spiritual centre. It was only at the first Student Services Religious Advisory Committee meeting that students heard of this intention. Ironically, advertising brochures for international students are still being published at RMIT promoting the new "Muslim Prayer Room".

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