The new Reflection Center, which is planned to open in March with the Student Life building, was a push by President Matthew Holland as a response from UVU students.
“We have been working on this project for over 15 years, when students came to me admitting that they were praying in the restrooms,” said Linda Walton, co-chair of the Reflection Center Advisory Board. “That is unacceptable.”
Lack of accommodation for the diversity of faiths on campus is currently an issue identified by President Holland that is hoped to see some resolution with the addition of the new Reflection Center.
Despite the 80 percent LDS majority of students, the university also has a large and increasingly diverse population including students from all 50 states and nearly 70 foreign countries.
“The 80 to 86 percent of the LDS population does not negate the need for coming together,” said Blair Van Dyke, LDS Orem institute of religion advisory board member. “Within the Mormon population there is a great depth of diversity. Mormonism practiced today is not a monolith, especially at a university campus,”
The Reflection Center will be a place for multiple religious groups to meet and conduct workshops on spirituality. The LDS Institute facilities located close to campus service the large LDS student community, however, it’s planed that the Reflection Center will be able to bring together and service all denominations.
“The LDS Institute was generous to provide space for [non-LDS students], however a more neutral space was needed, said Walton. “Funded by students, this space will provide—along with the rest of Student Wellness Center—for physical, mental and spiritual welfare for anyone on campus.”
The center will be in three sections dedicated to specific activities. One will be an enclosed space for silent prayer, meditation and reflection. The second will be for verbalized prayer and other appropriate forms of religious expression. The third will be for convening lectures, student club meetings and discussion groups.
“The Reflection Center provides space for meditation, prayer, reflection, or other forms of individual religious expression,” according to the UVU’s Interreligious Engagement Initiative.
In particular, Muslim prayer—which takes place five times a day—is essential to spiritual growth.
Dr. Ruhul Kudus, of the Utah Valley Islamic Council, said Islamic students take alternative routes to fit in their daily prayers on campus. Some schedule a room in the Sorenson Center for group prayer while others travel to the University Mall mosque.
“[The Reflection Center] makes a very big difference to the Islamic culture. It is the first university I’ve been to that makes these kinds of accommodations,” said Kudus. “We appreciate it.”
The committee for the Center is in the process of making guidelines to create an atmosphere for spiritual meditation. Brian Birch, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, said that staff will be present during most business hours to help students and facilitate the Center.
Groups that have been instrumental in obtaining this facility include the Orthodox Christian Club, Saudi Student Association, Utah Valley Interfaith Club, Latter-day Saint Student Association, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Baptist Campus Ministries as well as many outside community partnerships.
However, even though the Reflection Center’s main goal is to give people of other faiths a home on campus, it is not the only reason.
“Stress is the number one cause for college failure,” Amy Grubb, director of Campus Recreation and Wellness, said. “[The Reflection Center] will be a great place to quiet your mind.”
Although only planning and prioritizing will fully relieve the anxieties of paper due dates, family obligations and social life, the Reflection Center is also there to combat stress. “Regular moments of quiet reflection and meditation are proven to contribute to sound mental health,” according to a UVU Fact Sheet on the Reflection Center.
In order to better inform students about the functionality of the Reflection Center, a publicity plan is currently in the works. It will focus on students, the campus community and the broader region.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on April 1 to open the Reflection Center.