The new Muslim prayer space at Emmanuel College, a Christian seminary at the University of Toronto, cost $25,000, and was shared by the Canadian Jaffari Muslim Foundation, the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, the Islamic Institute of Toronto, the Muslim Chaplaincy, and the Muslim Students Association. However, the higher cost of the $75,000 ablutions (Muslim-only washing) facility was paid for mainly by non-Muslim students, their parents, and taxpayers.
Toronto Sun There is no better example of why our post-secondary education system is broken than a recent story out of University of Toronto. The Varsity, an alma mater’s student publication, has a piece headlined “University heeds call for more prayer space.” And it goes downhill from there.
Emmanuel College — a Christian college within the University of Toronto — has just opened a Muslim prayer space and “ablutions facility.” That’s a place for Muslims to wash various parts of the body before prayer. So this is no classroom set aside for quick prayer. This is the real deal.
The university is also, the story notes, transforming a part of the eighth floor of Robarts Library into a multi-faith prayer space. Studying space has always been hard to find at the U of T, and Robarts is one of the busiest spots, partially because it’s open 24 hours. The administration is doing the student body a disservice giving Robarts space to anything other than books and study space.
The Emmanuel project cost $100,000. It’s mostly funded by the school — which means by students, parents and taxpayers. I thought the point of university was to learn new things, not to transform school into a replica of your home life. After all, there are already ample prayer spaces in Toronto — called churches, temples, mosques, etc.
If you’re a little confused by why a Christian college is transforming itself into a mosque, principal Mark Toulouse, quoted in The Varsity, has the answer: “In February 2010, we started the Muslim studies program, as well as the Canadian Muslim continuing education certificate program. We also have a master’s program — the Muslim Studies track, for students interested in becoming Muslim chaplains.”
Like so many other new programs introduced at universities in recent decades, these clearly have no place in public institutions heavily underwritten by taxpayers.
Schools are now like the rest of government. In government, we fret over where to put heroin injection sites while Torontonians are narrowly dodging chunks of the Gardiner Expressway and people in Ottawa are driving into sinkholes.
In education, we fund programs like diversity studies that give the taxpayer little bang for their buck. We’re neglecting the basics in favour of fluff.
Notice there’s not a flake of soap in sight in this Islamic washing ritual: