UPDATE: I figured once Herseth-Sandlin got wind of this all things would go back to normal;
Augustana spokeswoman Jill Wilson confirmed the meeting was canceled, that the students will get their room back and that Sandlin intends to call such a meeting to meet with students on the interfaith space in the future.
The interfaith leaders also suggested Augustana send its senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity, and said the university should have handled the sacred items with due respect.
The students should be applauded for doing the right thing and contacting the media about the situation. Shedding light on injustice can open many doors.
Augustana can do what they want to. They are a private college. But in light of the recent crying over drag shows at SDSU and long hair at O’Gorman you kind of wonder what the true motivation is behind closing the room;
After contacting several administrators, we were told that the Interfaith Room was removed to give Sodexo, our dining service, more room.
The Interfaith Room in the Commons has served as a place to discuss and learn about a variety of religious traditions, as well as to provide all students with a sacred place to pray and worship, regardless of their religious background. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, Sikhs, Agnostics, and Atheists have visited the space and contributed their perspectives and experiences to the campus community. It is a crucial part of the faith infrastructure on campus, one that cannot be replaced.
In my early 20’s I was a volunteer DJ at Augie’s radio station, KAUR. I remember how the University handled that closure, after a few protests they moved forward.
I am not sure of the outcome of this situation, but I find it a bit alarming that a private university that should embrace all faiths in essence are turning their backs on students of different faith.
And it isn’t about money. Augie has spent millions on their sports programs (something that has very little to do with religion or faith) and if they have this kind of money, I’m sure they can find another room to accomodate the students.
I think the closure of the room without any notice are grounds for non-Christian students to file an internal discrimination complaint. It would be different if the students were fighting to implement a new room, but to take away something this important without notice to the student body is troubling.