On the RMIT Prayer Room Issue

Green Left Weekly are reporting on the RMIT prayer room issue: the apparent decision of the university administration to convert the Muslim prayer room into a “multi-faith spiritual centre”.

For decades, the campus had prayer rooms for Muslim students, including separate rooms for males and females. In 2005 Muslim students pointed out that the existing rooms were too small and unsafe to use. In 2006/07, RMIT approved a new proposal to design and build a replacement Muslim prayer room.

On March 18 word broke out that RMIT had broken its promise to build a bigger Muslim prayer room and had instead decided to make it a multi-faith spiritual centre. It was only at the first Student Services Religious Advisory Committee meeting that students heard of this intention. Ironically, advertising brochures for international students are still being published at RMIT promoting the new “Muslim Prayer Room”.

A letter from the president of the university’s Muslim Student Association can be read here, along with additional commentary.

Given the growing numbers of students from the Gulf attending the university and the fact that the university is actively spruiking for students from the Muslim world, it seems a rather curious decision. As far as we can tell, the incident hasn’t been covered in the Arab press yet but if/when it does, it is unlikely to make RMIT appear a more attractive study destination than it’s local competitors (who have, as of yet, not taken steps to reduce their accommodation of Muslim students or converted their prayer rooms into unisex multi-faith prayer halls).