Universities Struggle to Keep the Faith

July 11, 2008

Author: Louise Brown

Source: The Toronto Star


There is nowhere for Muslims to pray at McGill; the Montreal university shut the prayer room three years ago, arguing religious space has no place on a secular campus.

But at the University of Toronto, Muslims and anyone else who wants to pray between class can choose from among more than eight prayer rooms, including four at the airy new Multi-Faith Centre, where religion fuels discussions on everything from politics and peace to love potions. A potluck this spring called Faith, Food and Fornication let students sample aphrodisiacs from various traditions, "but we drew the line at Viagra," quipped campus diversity officer Nouman Ashraf.

From no prayer room to a full assortment, from halal sausage stands to women-only swim times, Canadian universities are grappling in often starkly different ways with the growing religious diversity of their students.