The Resiliency Room in the Student Union Building scheduled to officially open next semester

By the start of the spring 2021 semester, a project that students have been working on for years will finally be complete. The Resiliency Room will be built in an upcoming remodel to the Student Union Building (SUB) as a place of meditation, prayer and relaxation for students.

Hanna Suman, a senior biology and pre-med studies major, and Sajra Celovic, a senior media arts major have pushed for this addition to campus for the last year.

As an Inclusive Excellence Student Council (IESC) member during the 2019-2020 academic year, Suman took on the project from previous students and has continued the project after her position on IESC ended. Her work is the last leg of a five year-long process of development and securing a committed space on campus. 

But even in the last few years, the project has faced many obstacles. Suman picked up the project mainly from recent graduate and 2016-2017 IESC council member Dehra McFadden, who had been told by the SUB’s leadership that the Resiliency Room was not going to be possible in the SUB.

Albertsons Library started developing a four-year plan for the space, but when Suman found out that the SUB would be remodelled, she started pushing for the Resiliency Room to be added to the remodel.

“We just knew that there was a need for a space where people could come and feel comfortable to pray and meditate and do whatever else they needed to, because there’s not always a safe space provided to you, especially when you’re living with other students on campus, who may not have the same belief system as you,” Suman said.

The SUB administrators eventually agreed, and Suman and Celovic credited students’ persistence over the years with the decision. The university committed $40,000 to the project, but after the coronavirus pandemic began, those funds were cut in half. 

Now faced with the duty of fundraising the remaining $20,000, they have set the goal of raising $10,000 through the university’s crowdfunding site PonyUp by the end of October to purchase books, prayer beads and rugs and mats. They hope to raise another $10,000 at another date to purchase a washing station.

“This is really important, now more than ever, for everybody because mental health has always been a discussion, but as soon as we were all forced to self-isolate, we kind of discovered that a space like this is really necessary,” Celovic said. “That idea of resiliency and about recentering yourself is where the name came from and the idea behind the room.”

[Photo of Hanna Suman (left) and Sajra Celovic (right)]
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

Originally intended to be just a prayer room started by Muslim students, the purpose of the space has changed over time.

For Muslim students, finding a safe, quiet and private place to pray can be difficult on campus.

Aisha Kayed, who graduated from Boise State with a degree in global studies in May 2020, remembers participating in the Muslim Student Association in the 2015-2016 academic year. That year, students met with Student Union and Albertsons Library administrators to propose the idea of creating or allocating spaces for prayer on campus.

“During these meetings the administrations loved the idea and said that they would help us to find empty rooms that we could use,” Kayed wrote in an email. “Unfortunately, after these meetings, there was empty noise.”

By the time Suman joined the IESC and took on the project, she met with the Muslim Student Association and found that many students had stopped coming to prayer because the rooms students were reserving in the SUB were often crowded and uncomfortable. Additionally, housing had recently faced criticisms for a lack of anti-racist and hate crime protocol. Suman, feeling a need for space spaces for people from all walks of life, decided to change the name to “Resiliency Room.”

“After consulting with a couple of people I realized that this shouldn’t just be a space for prayer,” Suman said. “It should be open to students who just need to take a moment to reflect.”

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