The Faculty Senate met Nov. 18, and approved a prayer recommendation by majority vote. The recommendation had been presented by the Minority and Diversity Issues Committee.
The senate eventually approved the initial recommendation that was presented in May.
The recommendation’s language said that the committee “recommends the campus community be mindful that public prayer at official VSU events can make attendees feel marginalized.”
The committee wanted to make the student body know that the “policy” is actually a recommendation which still allows prayer during VSU events, but in a respectable manner.
Alicja Rieger, an early childhood and reading education professor, wanted to make it known to the student body that the committee’s intention was not to place a limit or boundaries about how, when and where a student or any religious organization prays. Rieger, along with the committee, wanted the student body to be aware of other religious parties around campus when prayer is part of a VSU event.
During the meeting, the faculty carefully analyzed two propositions that were brought before the senate. Many were at odds with how both recommendations were worded.
The second recommendation that was not approved was rejected by a few of the members of the senate because the language was too broad and could be interpreted in too many ways.
Maren Clegg-Hyer, an early British literature professor, was concerned that the committee did not insert language that made it clear that professors can reference religious issues for teaching religious sects for British literature.
“I have a concern about that but it’ll probably be fine,” Clegg-Hyer said. “I would have rather seen it in writing.”
Another professor in the philosophy and religious studies repartment, Christobal Serran-Pagan, who worked with the recommendation since it was first mentioned a year ago, felt that the word “policy” was the wrong word to use.
However, he thought it was necessary to make the student body aware of the recommendation.
“It would make people aware of their actions and so that is the reason why we have this recommendation,” Serran-Pagan said.
Serran-Pagan also said that the recommendation was initially mentioned by Kimberly Johnson because of complaints from a student and some faculty members who felt like there are certain places on campus where some people may be crossing the line at times by imposing prayer in their meetings or locations.
The committee’s objective was not to prohibit prayer of any religious organization or individual, but to make faculty and students’ aware that as a university, we shouldn’t impose any type of prayer at VSU events, he said.