On the 17th of October, a modest ceremony, overlooked by much of the campus, was help in the Campus Center basement. It was the official opening of the Reflection Lounge. In its own words: “A quiet place for personal and group meditation and reflection.” A medium-sized group of students, faculty, and alumni gathered around a refreshment table in a small corner of the Campus Center basement, excitedly chatting while they waited for the arrival of the man who would start the ceremony by cutting the ribbon.
The purpose of this room is primarily religious, and it aims to accommodate all religions. While this room, and an accompanying space down the hall, was used for this purpose some months beforehand, this ceremony officially welcomes these spaces onto the NJIT campus. Before this, these rooms were merely storage space and a largely unused computer lounge. Somewhat useful in their own right, but not enough so, especially because the religious students at NJIT had no dedicated quiet areas in which they could meditate, pray, or merely relax.
Muslim students in particular found themselves praying in the hallways. B49 is for individual use, while B90 is for groups. Groups can schedule meetings, but when the space is not reserved, it can be used for personal reflection as well. One can speak to LaTosha Wilson to reserve the room. Students from the Muslim Students Association, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Bible Study group, the Cru, and the Korean Cru were all part of the development of these areas. Input from various staff meditation groups and other faculty also went into the designs. The goal was to create areas that would satisfy the needs of all students.
A meeting was held, and all official campus religious groups were invited to attend and make suggestions. Additionally, students who could not attend were free to send in suggestions via e-mail or in person to the Quality of Campus Life Committee. One issue brought up by campus religious groups regards the issue of religious discussion in so called “Small Groups.” Small Groups are discussion groups where people can get together and talk about their beliefs and/or life issues. The problem is that these groups require a small, intimate space.
One difficulty is finding a location, as lounges tend to be crowded, noisy, and open, so rooms of this nature help with that issue. Additionally, if others would like to get involved, they now have a static area where students can go to inquire about any practicing religious group. Tim Hart, advisor for Cru, notes that this meditation room is a reflection of the idea that this campus is not only about the body but also the spirit. Students and faculty attending the event expressed a mix of excitement and relief, as they were happy to have a dedicated place of worship on campus.