The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

George Mason University: Some are Still More Equal

Further Updates: 25 September 2007

If you're getting here from Google, you can find our reaction to the Administration's e-mail to the student body over here.

The gift that keeps on taking.
Tuesday was my first night of class for the Fall semester, and one of the first things on my agenda back at Mason was to go and check on last spring's contested "meditation" space. Last I had heard from the Student Government, there was zero chance of expansion of the prayer room, and the MSA was instructed to ensure that students who use the space stow all of their partitions and prayer mats when the area is not in use.

Imagine my surprise to see that, upon returning to campus, that a large educational space—which is "coincidentally" located directly next door to the contested "meditation" space—has been relocated due to construction. What was originally a computer lab, a media room (computer graphics and multimedia production), and a space for math tutorship, has been moved out of their previous location, which had been there for as long as I've been going to Mason. The area which was formerly used for educational purposes is now under construction, though oddly enough, there is no sign of what it is intended to be, except for a building permit which identifies the work as being done for "renovation."

I've put in a request with a couple of my contacts on campus to see if anyone knows what's going on. There is at present no mention of this construction in the school's student newspaper, the Broadside, and even though the official school newsletter mentions a number of construction projects, there's not a word regarding the former Media Lab space.
At the time I initially came through the area that afternoon, the prayer room was actually in the process of being used by a large group of Muslim students, and the partitions were set up as usual to segregate the men from the women. So, returning after my class let out at 9 PM, I stopped by again to have a look, and noticed that the partitions and floor mats were still set up.

So much for the Administration taking a tough stand on keeping the space ecumenical.

I sat down for a moment to pray there, to get a feel for what other students must be feeling. Or at least, I tried to. The space is definitely intimidating, even during the relatively quiet hours of night—which aren't all that quiet: I ran into two Muslim students while trying to get in to the space to use it. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to get in that space during the busy parts of the day!

I'm going to be keeping an eye on the construction right next door—if the University is doing anything other than renovating educational space on this already-overcrowded building, you'll hear about it here, first.

Until later, here are the pictures of the areas I'm discussing—Please forgive the large size and graininess of the originals: I have not had opportunity to scale these phone-camera shots down for the website at present.

Update: I just noticed this press release issued by the University on the 27th of July, most likely in response to the USA Today article written on the topic:

Media Contact: Jennifer Edgerly, [email protected] (703)-993-8699

FAIRFAX, Va., July 27, 2007 - George Mason University is proud of its ranking as one of the nation's most diverse universities, with students from more than 130 countries. As one of Virginia's largest higher education institutions, the university supports and maintains a peaceful and tolerant environment on campus while adhering to the appropriate separation of church and state that is expected from a public institution.

Recent news articles have presented a misleading and inaccurate description of the meditation room on the Fairfax Campus. The meditation room in the Johnson Center, a student union building, was established seven years ago in response to those in the university community who wanted a quiet, drop-in location for reflection and prayer. The room is open to all on campus who wish to utilize it for quiet meditation. It is not and never has been affiliated with a specific religion or religious practice and there are no plans to change this in the future.

Alleged issues surrounding the use of the meditation room that were discussed in an article in Mason's student newspaper nearly three months ago were resolved peacefully on campus last spring with no additional problems. The students on campus who utilize the meditation room, including the Muslim students, have shown the utmost respect for each other and for George Mason University.

My apologies for not writing about this sooner, but from what I've continued to read on the SGA bulletin board, the issue was most certainly not resolved in the Spring. Nice to see that the Administration is starting to take notice of the seriousness of the situation, though. Not that I expect anything good to come of it.

"Sorry, We've Moved." The Media Lab is now located in the Computer Science building. Which is odd, since multimedia is generally a function of the ARTS department.

"Move along, there will be no education in this area." Room 344 is also in the Johnson Centre, and thankfully enough, it seems to be big enough to handle at least two-dozen students.

This is a really bad photo, but the space towards the back of the room that looks like a partially-demolished wall is directly adjacent to the "meditiation" area.

Quiet Meditation Space, owned and operated by the Muslim Student Association. This is how it appeared last May.

And here's how it looks now. Is it just me, or does it look like there are actually more dividers now?

Men go over here.

While women must remain on this more cramped side of the "apartheid" wall.

Wherefore art thou, Feminists?

The only sign of what's going on is this permit.



#1 Rooster 31-Aug-2007
Aww... how sweetly accommodating. What a faggot school.
#2 forest 31-Aug-2007
Yeah, it looks like the dividers are creeping into the hallway.
#3 captainfish 01-Sep-2007
I'm sorry, but how is this a peaceful religion when there is so much animosity going on within? I recall the Christian religion went through a similar phase. It was called the Dark Ages and it affected most of the world due to the refusal to share knowledge and the serf and class systems set up by the church. Enlightenment destroyed the darkness. Bringing the bible and religion out into the open for discussion and exploration brought us to where we are today.

I have a bad feeling that your school has pulled a fast one. As most are doing it these days. As most there now probably see it, there is no separation of church or state at issue because this does not involve christianity. It seems only when christians are involved do people whine about church-state issues.

Wonder what would happen if a bunch of Budhists got together and stood outside that area. Would the muslim group clean up after themselves and eagerly allow the Budhists into the area for their turn? Could a Christian group come in to the area while the muslims started praying and begin preaching to their own flock out of the bible? Are the muslim who are "meditating" doing so quietly or are they doing the traditional method which is not quiet??
#4 John Adams 12-Sep-2007
no religion is entitled to favoritism on a publicly-funded campus. If it's a "meditation space", then no religion should be allowed to use that space for verbal expressions of that particular faith. If the Muslims don't like it (or for that matter, the Baptists or Hare Krishnas), they can rent their own space somewhere else. Separation of church and state includes Islam.
#5 muslimspy 13-Sep-2007
That area needs to be bugged with sophisticated electronic eavesdropping eq. The MSA is the 'Hitler Youth' of the Muslim Brotherhood, a deadly serious and implacable foe of civilization. More kuffars should be "converting" to Islam in order to gather intel on these people.
#6 Sam Deakins 13-Sep-2007
Shud now be renamed George Muhammed University. The muslims would appreciate it.
#7 cletus 15-Oct-2007
leave it up to muslims to demand we change everything to accommodate them yet refuse to change any of their ways to accommodate us.
#8 fightback 29-Dec-2007
Two questions:

1)What would happen if you refused to be segregated according to gender, and walked into the "wrong" room to pray? Try it. Tell them YOUR religion doesn't require sex-segregation.

2) What's stopping you from writing up this same info, with these photos, and getting the word out via flyers, posters, whatever, in a public place in your town? (outside local news station would be a good idea).

Thank you for posting this. Keep it up.
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