Religion and faith on campus

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By Josh Goldschmidt

On the case of spiritual studenthood

University can be a trying time for the religious. Not because of ideas that create questions, and not because of experiences that offer the chance to redefine yourself, but because we get thrown into new groups of people who may not understand our needs or care for them.

It can be disorienting to try and negotiate these new friendships unless you know the full range of religious resources around you.

Facilities

One of the defining aspects of organized religion is that it ascribes holiness to places of prayer.

Off-campus and on-campus resources can be found on the Chaplains’ section of the UWaterloo website. Small spaces on campus are valuable because they give students time to think, reflect, and pray. They have  also been used for yoga and light exercise. These areas do not need to be booked and are scattered conveniently around the campuses. They include Optometry 1019, Renison 0203B, Tatham Centre 0232, and DC, on the third floor, at the end of the hallway.

The larger spaces in the colleges tilt towards Christianity such as Notre Dame Chapel (Catholic) and St. Bede’s Chapel (Anglican). Main campus spaces include the third floor of the Student Life Centre, beside the chaplains’ office, and MC 2018.  Both are geared towards Muslim prayers, offering ablution facilities and prayer mats, but are large enough to accommodate all forms of prayer and a couple people just sleeping. MC 2018 also features separate spaces for men and women.

For those of you living on main campus, within the UWP complex, inside Claudette Miller Hall is a multi-faith room that can be easily accessed through the front desk, just make sure to bring your Watcard.

Studies

Classes are offered across campus. To find out more, check out your religious affiliation on campus  — e.g. Chinese Christian Fellowship, Hillel on Campus, UW Hindu Students’ Association.

Chaplain’s emails and phone numbers are available on the University of Wateroo website as well.

Religious literature can be found across campus libraries. Dana Porter is a good place to start, but Renison and St. Jerome’s libraries have unique content as well. I would also recommend the rarely visited religious studies library on the bottom floor of PAS.

Food

While vegetarians, depending on their strictness, may have a few restaurants available on campus, halal-eaters can rely on  MC, C&D, which offers halal Indian food.  Alternatively. Zabihah maintains a list of halal restaurants and JustEat can be filtered to halal options if you feel like delivery. Byte 75 beside Wilfred Laurier University has offered kosher sandwiches for the past year.

Protections

Policies 33 and 61 guarantee religious freedoms for students, something I have needed to rely on more than once. Policy 61 provides time off for religious observances and policy 33 guarantees equal treatment and prohibits poisoned environments. A poisoned environment is an environment with frequent, but less offensive behaviours than would classify as harassment. For those of you who might prefer women’s only workout times, the Physical Activity Complex offers women’s only hours in the dance studio and in the swimming pool.