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Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Editorial: Muller Chapel must be a space for all students

Editorial%3A+Muller+Chapel+must+be+a+space+for+all+students
George Esposito

For many students across campus, faith is a central part of their daily life, identity and being. Muller Chapel has the potential to act as a space for growing this faith. Furthermore, it should be a space for students to gain a sense of community and comfort, no matter what they believe. The college must continue to invest in programming for all faiths at Muller Chapel to create a stronger sense of community and acceptance on campus.

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life hosted an open house Feb. 13 for new students at Muller Chapel. The open house was open to people of all faiths, and acted as a way for local religious leaders to engage with the campus community. What is notable about this event is that it did not cater to one religious practice. Rather, it acted as an event to promote Muller Chapel as a resource accessible to all students. This event signifies an effort to engage students of different religious backgrounds to use the space in whatever way would be beneficial to them — something the college must continue to prioritize.

There are eight religious and spiritual life organizations across campus, including Hillel at Ithaca College, Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, the Muslim Student Association and the Ithaca College Paganism and Witchcraft Community. Muller Chapel hosts many events in association with these student organizations and celebrations of holidays. It also acts as a place for weekly gatherings, including Ithaca College Paganism and Witchcraft Community’s weekly meetings, Lighthouse Christian Fellowship’s non-denominational service and Hillel’s Kabbalat Shabbat Services.

Recently, Muller Chapel has also been a place to find community during times of political turmoil. The Israel-Hamas war caused a severe spike in antisemitic and Islamaphobic hate across college campuses. The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, Hillel and Chabad were all involved in hosting an event Oct. 9 at Muller Chapel to support Jewish students grappling with the effects of the conflict. This support is vital and marks a care for students.

However, there must also be more avid support for Muslim students across campus. The Muslim Student Association hosts weekly Jummah prayers at Muller Chapel, but there is a lack of campus-run events supporting students of this faith during a time when they may be experiencing heightened emotions. This is an example of where the college must provide more adequate programming and support for students of underrepresented faiths.

People of all religious backgrounds deserve to feel comfortable and supported, both by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and in the physical space of Muller Chapel. It is clear that there is effort toward making Muller Chapel more accessible to all students, regardless of their background. Increasing programming for a multitude of faiths would help the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life achieve this goal.

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