New Muslim Prayer Space and Kosher Kitchen Opens at 110 Broad Street

Sophie Mack, Staff Writer

Colgate’s Office of the Chaplains recently announced a new prayer room and Kosher-friendly kitchen in the Interfaith house at 110 Broad Street. Previously, there had only been a prayer space in the basement of Colgate Memorial Chapel, a space that was difficult to access for students living down the hill, according to the University Chaplain and Protestant Campus Minister Corey MacPherson.

“This is actually something we have been wanting to do for several years,” MacPherson said. “With Ramadan now in the school year, it was even more important that students down the hill have access to a prayer room.” 

MacPherson worked with the Office of Residential Life to find a space where they could have a new prayer room that would be private, accessible and have a Wudu station.

“Colgate was behind in meeting the needs of Muslim students because we didn’t have what is called Wudu stations, which are washing stations. This is traditionally what one would use before prayer. Not only is there now a prayer room down the hill for students who live down there, but there’s also male and female Wudu stations there as well,” MacPherson said. “That has been needed. Our peer institutions have those, Hamilton College has those, so that has been needed for a while. 

According to Muslim Students Association (MSA) President Yassob Khalid, being able to pray and have a sense of community in the form of a prayer room was important, especially for international Muslim students. 

“We used to pray in the Chapel basement and we had to reserve space every single Friday, but there wasn’t really any dedicated space where a Muslim could go and just do their thing,” Khalid said. “There was one space, but it was a three person room. It was a Chaplain’s office that was turned into a prayer space, which was tiny. Having a separate space gives you more freedom.” 

Khalid also acted as the advising liaison to the Office of the Chaplains, overseeing the conversion of a vacant staff apartment into this new student prayer space. He will serve as its resident manager through the end of the Spring semester. 

Currently, the prayer space is primarily for students who live down the hill and is restricted by pre-approved Gate Card access. However, any student wishing to use the space for Muslim practice can email [email protected] to get access, regardless of where they live on campus. COVID-19 restrictions place the capacity of the space at six people. Congregational prayers will, however, remain at their scheduled time and location in Memorial Chapel at 5:00 p.m. on Fridays.

“The big difference the prayer room is going to make is having access to a room 24/7 where we can go especially during the month of Ramadan, because you want to be in a space where you can be connected to God and read the Qur’an,” Khalid said. “You can go read the Qur’an and not have anyone disturb you.” 

The location of the new space is strategic, located inside the already-established Interfaith House at 110 Broad Street. The residence currently offers living space to students who desire expanded access to space to practice numerous aspects of various religions. Increased demand for prayer space on-campus, as well as having convenient locations to pray multiple times per day inspired the school’s decision, according to a press release from Colgate University.

“With two spaces, one up the hill and one down, Muslim students will be more readily be able to heed the call to prayer five times a day,” Senior Director of Communications and Parent Initiatives Rebecca Downing stated in a Colgate News update.

The 110 Broad street Interfaith House also implemented a Kosher kitchen by adding in Kosher friendly utensils, a new toaster oven and a kitchenette to the existing kitchen. Kosher food is any food or beverage that the Jewish dietary laws called Kashrut, permit a person to consume.

“Currently, the only Kosher kitchen is in the Jewish Saperstein center, which is up the hill,” MacPherson said. “The Kosher kitchen is probably just step one. Our Rabbi is currently working with Chartwells to have a set area for kosher food. They can’t just start serving kosher food, because the food and the meat would need to be prepared and cooked in a specific way.”