As the semester begins, students may feel stressed and need to take a moment to relax and meditate. For some busy religious students, they may find themselves looking for a quiet place to pray.
Near the end of February, a meditation room was opened on the fifth floor of Alden Library for students to pray or meditate throughout the day, according to a previous Post report. The room is open during normal library hours.
Hashim Pashtun, a graduate student studying civil engineering, was instrumental in creating the new meditation room.
“It was my job to provide a new social space for people from different religions, beliefs, ideologies or even if they don’t have any religion, just a common space for them to practice whatever beliefs they have,” Pashtun, who was the president of the International Student Union last academic, said.
On its website, Alden Library highlights do’s and don’ts for the meditation room, such as to be respectful to others and to remove shoes before entering.
The meditation room highlights inclusivity and shows the diversity of Ohio University and Athens, where people with different beliefs can have a safe space to meditate and practice their beliefs, Pashtun said.
“This place is not to prove who’s right or who’s wrong or which religion is better,” Pashtun said. “What I was aiming for was a safe place for all — to come, get together, unite and meditate.”
Students are often stressed, and the meditation room can also act as a place where they can meditate, re-energize and calm down, Pashtun said.
The meditation room also offers a bookshelf that people can use to donate religious texts for those who want to learn more about different religions.
Since its opening, the meditation room has received some feedback, such as a suggestion to install a CCTV surveillance camera, which is being considered. Pashtun said in the event that trouble occurs, it would provide a record. It could, however, be considered an invasion of privacy, as some students would feel uncomfortable being recorded.
Scott Seaman, the dean of OU Libraries, said the library has received a positive response from the university about the meditation room's opening and that it was regularly used Spring Semester.
“I think it’s one part of making Alden Library — and our campus — more welcoming and open,” Seaman said in an email.
The library has recently completed a renovation of areas outside the meditation room, adding more student work spaces, Seaman said.
“We anticipate many more students using the fifth floor study spaces and that will bring additional visibility to the Meditation Room and could prompt even higher usage,” Seaman said in his email.
Md. Tahamid Ar Rabbi, a graduate student studying linguistics, said he visits the meditation room almost every day.
“It’s very calm and quiet, really suitable for meditation,” he said.