Last week, The Daily Princetonian reported on an initiative by Princeton Hindu Satsangam and a number of both Hindu and non-Hindu students to advocate for the creation of a Hindu prayer space on campus. Though the University Chapel hosts Hindu events and Murray-Dodge Hall, which houses the University’s Religious Life offices, contains an interfaith prayer room, supporters of the proposal have pointed out that the establishment of a space geared specifically towards Hindu worship would offer a meaningful recognition of Princeton’s large Hindu community. Additionally, a new Hindu prayer space would contribute to the mission of fostering diversity and cultural awareness which lies at the core of the University’s educational goals. The Editorial Board endorses this initiative and commends the students who have expressed interest in a prayer space for their efforts to enhance Hindu life at Princeton.
In general, the University does an excellent job of accommodating and assisting religious groups and of fostering an environment in which religiously-based student organizations can thrive; for example, Princeton supports regular services for Christians of all denominations in the Chapel, hosts the Center for Jewish Life (which sponsors meals, services and lectures), and offers a Muslim prayer room in Murray-Dodge Hall. In fact, according to Vineet Chander, Princeton’s Hindu life coordinator, Princeton maintains the nation’s only full-time Hindu life program. The designation of a Hindu prayer space would be a valuable contribution to the climate of religious and cultural diversity to which the University has demonstrated a strong commitment. Moreover, creating a Hindu prayer room would be more than a purely symbolic gesture; while the Chapel is not conducive to praying while seated on the floor, a new space could be arranged around specific Hindu traditions. The prayer room would give the Hindu community greater control over how it wishes to organize its services and would likely motivate Hindu Princetonians to deepen their involvement in Hindu life on campus.
The creation of a Hindu prayer space could be completed without any inconvenience to the University community. There are many possible locations for the room; one recent suggestion is Green Hall, which is temporarily housing the Department of Astrophysical Sciences on its third floor. If the plan for a Hindu prayer space were to be accepted, the University should consult the Hindu community to find an available spot which would not only be convenient and easily repurposed, but which would meet the community’s wishes and needs. In addition to the relative simplicity of setting up a space, Princeton Hindu Satsangam’s proposal has wide support from both Hindu and non-Hindu, religious and non-religious students across the University. The Board sees no compelling reason not to go ahead with creating a Hindu prayer space, especially given the potential for the new space to benefit the Hindu community on campus and to strengthen the religious diversity from which all Princetonians can learn a great deal. The Hindu community is a valuable part of student life at Princeton, and the establishment of a Hindu prayer room would be an important step towards giving the Hindu community even greater recognition for its contributions to the University.
The Editorial Board is an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of the ‘Prince.’ The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-In-Chief.