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Clarkson's Meditation Room: Common Ground

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It’s the voices—and the range of voices—that distinguish college campuses from other settings, including home. With all the talking in classes, dorms, student-teacher meetings and faculty confabs, it’s worth asking about listening. Or actively hearing the things that matter.

As a university, Clarkson values each voice and dedicated a place for quiet discussion and dialog—even when nothing is said aloud. 

“It’s a nice space, cut off from the hubbub of campus.”

This is how Crescent Islam describes the University’s meditation room.

He’s a senior, majoring in biomolecular science. He says, often, it seems he’s either in class, reading, conducting research or completing lab work. It doesn’t leave a lot of time to answer the Muslim call to prayer—a call that comes five times a day. So he’s happy to have the meditation room nearby.

He describes it as a simple space, but well-designed with a distinctly different appearance from the rest of campus. Part of the ceiling angles up and away. Tall windows let diffuse light spread across the hard-wood floor and the low seats that line the walls.

“It shows that Clarkson respects spiritual values,” he says. “And they’ve put in two ablutionaries. That really means a lot.”

The ablutionaries are tiled stalls, lined with benches and water faucets at just the right height to cleanse the feet. They’re used for ritual purification before prayer—a practice common to many faiths.

Abul Khondker finds this commonality in the use of the room itself. He’s a professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“When I go to pray,” he says, “sometimes other people are in the meditation room. Some read from the Bible, others sit in quiet reflection. People practice yoga. I ask if it’s OK to spread my prayer rug and everyone is always so gracious, so respectful. And there are times when we all pray together. We coexist and it’s wonderful.”

Saira Bakshi agrees. She’s a chemistry major that also works as a research assistant at Clarkson. She transferred from another university that did not have a designated space for prayer and meditation.

“There, we’d have to find out-of-the-way places to pray,” she says, “sometimes in the library behind bookshelves or under a staircase.”

The meditation room was one aspect of Clarkson that made her feel welcome.

“We all use the room for similar reasons and, as a newcomer, it gave me a niche where I found some of my closest friends on campus.”

Mark Southcott also uses the meditation room with friends. He’s pursuing his Master’s in electrical engineering and he’s a member of the Christian Fellowship, a student group on campus.

“It’s common ground,” he says. “And it’s a place on campus where you can pray and gather your thoughts. It’s where you can go to step away and not hear 50 voices at the same time.”

Sitting next to Mark, Crescent nods and says, “It’s a place where you have the silence that lets you hear your inner thoughts or something bigger. That quiet, even that’s a voice. I like that we have a place where we can hear that, too.”

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Praying in Clarkson's meditation room

A partial list of religious and conscience-based student groups at Clarkson:

Association for Creative Thought

Hillel Club

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Muslim Student Association

Newman Club

Philosophy Club

More Spiritual and Religious Resources on- and off-campus.