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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

The new CRSSJ building debuts

New Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice (CRSSJ) located at 913 8th Avenue. Photo by Sarah Ruiz.

This past year, the Center for Religion, Spirituality and Social Justice (CRSSJ) was moved to a new location. The CRSSJ used to be housed on Park Street, but now it is located at 913 8th Ave.

The new location of the CRSSJ is a result of construction for a new admissions and financial aid building. The CRSSJ, along with the language houses, have been relocated to make space for the new structure./

Even with its new location, the CRSSJ is still relatively close to campus. A nearby location was something that the Rev. Deanna Shorb, chaplain and dean of religious life, felt was crucial to ensure that students would still be able to easily access this space and the resources it offers. “That was my primary request,” Shorb said.

The new location comes with a few perks. The old CRSSJ building did have a dedicated Muslim and Hindu prayer and cultural space, but these rooms were very small. The new CRSSJ building offers a larger, more usable space, which is twice the size of the previous location for Muslim and Hindu students to practice their faith.

“They’re equally sized,” Shorb said. “There’s an addition that was put on because President Kington agreed that there was a need to have dedicated space.”

The prayer spaces at the new CRSSJ building are duplicative, meaning that no prayer spaces were lost in the relocation process. In order to gain these spaces, some spaces had to diminish in size. The multi-religious library and smaller meditative space did reduce in size to accommodate these additions. The so-called prayer garage remained the same size.

“We worked with facilities management and through the President’s office to make sure that those spaces were duplicated in some way,” Shorb said.

Another addition is the lending library, which can be found in the renovated basement. There are new bookshelves and furniture that will be housed in the space. The lending library was recently introduced in the old building, but it now has a permanent space in the new building and offers expanded use for students and the community.

The building is fully accessible, except during business hours. This is a potential proble because after business hours and on weekends, the two sides of the building do not connect with one another. A kitchen and office spaces are found in the middle of the building without an interior hallway that connects both sides of the building, meaning that when the kitchen and offices are locked after business hours, the other half of the building cannot be accessed. The person must enter through the door on the other half of the building.

Additionally, the east side of the building, where prayer spaces, meditative spaces and the religious library are located, is accessed by steps, hindering its accessibility during non-business hours. After the building closes at 5 p.m. and during the weekends, users must be ambulatory to be able to use this space. The west side of the building includes the student lounge, along with a ramp and accessible bathroom.

Students have P-card access to the CRSSJ from 8 to 12 p.m. every night, seven days a week. Students are able to use this space as usual during non-business hours, but the accessibility issues present do make use of the space more difficult for some than others.

These accessibility issues are something that Shorb and Associate Chaplain Rabbi Rob Cabelli are working to address. There is no current plan in place to address these issues, but it is something that they both acknowledge and hope to resolve.

The signature porch from the old CRSSJ building was also lost in the relocation process. The new building offers a backyard, however, something that was not found at the old building.

“It [has] a backyard in which we could potentially create things that will help serve our mission of serving students,” Cabelli said. Once the language houses are ready for student use, they will share a backyard with the CRSSJ. This proximity will hopefully encourage student use and  improve awareness of the space.

A drawback of the new location is that the CRSSJ feels farther away from campus than the old building did.

“It’s really not any further, but it’s tucked behind a building, so it’s not really visible,” Cabelli said.

Shorb and Cabelli are trying to do more outreach in order to inform students about the new location of the CRSSJ and overcome any confusion about the relocation process.

There will be an open house on Oct. 30t from 3 to 6 p.m. to show students and the community the new CRSSJ space.

“We just want people to come and visit and make it their place,” Shorb said.

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