Georgia Tech can feel like a very busy, very noisy place. This comes in large part because of the social environment, with much bustle being required from the students to keep up with the school’s demands. There is also the matter of Tech’s urban location: skyscrapers and busy roads loom around the campus, boxing in an ever growing student population. The busy atmosphere is to be expected whenever a great deal needs to be accomplished, but I feel the need to escape it often and find myself gravitating towards quiet spaces like the library or out of the way benches. But frequently I long for a space even more suited to calm reflection than these, somewhere open, calm, clean, well lit and easily accessible. I propose, simply, that such a space ought to be created for the student body.
This place could function as more than just a place for reflection. It could also be a place of prayer or meditation for the diversity of religious groups existing on campus. Being located in a predominantly Christian state, Tech offers a great deal of resources to allow adherents of Christianity to practice their religion. There are certainly many organizations that provide community and structure for practitioners of religions less well represented on campus. My proposed space could offer what many of those organizations lack: space itself. If a common, faith neutral space could be built and booked by those who needed it, it would solve this very problem that these organizations have.
Such a multi-faith space would make campus a more inviting place. Religion, often existing at the center of how a person defines oneself, can shape the community experience that leads to a place feeling like home. The space would then be a symbol of inclusiveness and acceptance of diversity on campus.
It is an addition that would align with a recent increase in interfaith cooperation in universities that has occurred recently, many of which have been participating in President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge.
The benefits to campus life do not stop at religious groups — for those who might use the space for more secular meditation and relaxation, the space would offer a reminder that not everything at Tech is designed to fry the nerves.
I would fit into the latter group, and I know I would greatly appreciate a place to find a center of calm in the middle of a busy day, especially somewhere easily accessible between classes. In either instance, the creation of a quiet space sends a clear message that the institution values the well being of its students and recognizes the emotional
and spiritual aspects of that well being.
As for where this multi-faith space might be located, I would suggest there might be space found for it in the student center, given that it has been planned for future expansion. Some problems will arise from the fact that Tech is a public institution: there exists the question of how the space would be paid for and managed.
However, given the benefits that the space could offer, I would say it is worth looking for a solution. It may be difficult in general to solve problems of space and management, but this particular addition would be critical to bringing much-needed tranquility to the lives of students.