As you may be aware, there is a need to remove asbestos from the ducts beneath the Prayer Space in the King George VI building. This important work means that the Prayer Space will be closed temporarily with effect from 5.00pm on Friday 28th July. The building work will take place during August and September, and is expected to be completed in time for the beginning of the academic year in late September.
During the period of closure, every effort will be made to provide alternative, suitably-sized space on campus for Friday prayer. The University and the Students’ Union are working together to arrange suitable rooms and students and staff will be notified of the arrangements as soon as possible.
When the building work is completed, the Prayer Space will be re-opened as a Muslim prayer space, on an interim basis. The University is in the process of appointing a Faith Space Co-ordinator who will be responsible for the management of the space, but will not determine matters of faith or faith observance. The Co-ordinator will be in post in time for the re-opening of the Prayer Space at the end of September.
Consultation and longer-term plans
In the longer term, the University remains committed to the principle of managed, accessible and inclusive multi-faith provision.
We appreciate that we need to take time to consult with all relevant staff and student faith groups and other stakeholders, and to consider all of the possible options and implications.
We will therefore hold a full and open consultation in which to explore whether a multi-faith space is desirable and viable, and how such a space would operate in practice. The aim will be to ensure fair provision of faith space for our staff and students which does not compromise or diminish the opportunities for the proper practice and observation of faith requirements.
It is expected that the consultation process will take place during the summer period and throughout the Autumn term, with proposals being brought forward by December 2017. Until then, the current Prayer Space will continue to be used as a Muslim prayer space.
I will provide a further update once a way forward is agreed by all concerned.
Professor Tony Stevenson
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