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Library opens interfaith prayer and meditation room

The Fresno State community came together to dedicate the opening of the Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room at the Henry Madden Library on Wednesday.

The prayer room is located in Room 3203 in the library’s south wing.

Francine Oputa, director of the Cross Cultural and Gender Center, said the decision to bring a prayer and meditation space onto campus had been talked about for several years.

“For several years in our women’s center, we’ve had a quiet room, and many of our students come in there and use that room,” Oputa said.

Oputa added that the campus needed a place where everyone felt comfortable to go in and practice their faith. When Fresno State President Joseph Castro and Frank Lamas, the vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, came to the university, having a prayer and meditation space on campus was a priority.

Lamas said Fresno State is one of the most diverse campuses in the country and hopes the center meets the needs of all students, staff and faculty.

“Now we have a place where if you’re Latino or Latina, African-American, Native American, a man or a woman, or whatever, you can all come there and be a part of it,” Lamas said.

Peter MacDonald, dean of the Henry Madden Library, said the room is available for those students who may need a moment of reflection throughout their day. All students need to use the room is bring their student I.D. card.

Imam Seyed Ali Ghazvini, spiritual leader of the Islamic Cultural Center in Fresno, said members who share his faith will be very appreciative of the prayer space.

“We pray five times a day and sometimes it’s really hard to find an empty space for us to do the prayers. We are really thankful and grateful to President Castro, to all staff and faculty members to have this for every student, including the Muslim students,” Ghazvini said.

He added, that the acts of terror that have taken place around the world do not define his religion.

“These acts do not represent our faith,” Ghazvini said. “In fact, most victims of these attacks are Muslims, and today is a time where we celebrate our diversity.”

The Islamic Cultural Center donated prayer rocks for the mediation room.

Rabbi Rick Winer from Temple Beth Israel was also present. He said that when he came to Fresno five years ago, he was thrilled to find an interfaith community that is as strong as Fresno’s.

Winer added that this could be the model for other cities and campuses.

“I’m thrilled that we have this little piece and maybe go from this to more from blessing to blessing to strength,” Winer said.

Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, professor emeritus of peace studies, said this prayer space is the most important and significant artifact on campus. Kapoor and his wife also donated an interfaith prayer book for the prayer room.

“When I came to teach in ‘67, there was very little diversity in this campus,” Kapoor said. “We are very rich today in terms of color, gender and all different religions.”