New sign at chapel: “Open to all creeds and races of people”


Jenna Farhat

The new sign outside the Harvey D. Grace Memorial Chapel reads “This chapel is to be open to all creeds and all races of people.”

The Harvey D. Grace Memorial Chapel has a new sign designating it a place “open to all creeds and all races of people,” in addition to a new security camera installed inside.

The new installations come a year after the 59th session of the Student Government Association passed the interfaith prayer space resolution.

The resolution, dating back to August of last year, included a request for signage designating the chapel as an “interfaith prayer space” along with the installation of security cameras, additional lighting, and a wash station for Muslim students to perform ritual ablutions in order for them to pray.

The proposal came in light of a national outcry in 2015 following renovations made to the chapel that were intended to make the space more inclusive to members of various faith backgrounds. Renovations included the removal of the rows of pews that sat inside the chapel.

Vice President for Student Affairs Teri Hall said the language of the new sign on the chapel comes from the will of Mrs. Harvey Grace, who donated the funds for the facility in 1963 as a memorial to her husband.

“We can’t call it the interfaith prayer space because of what was in the will document,” Hall said in July about the plans to install a new sign. “But we can put what was in the document that says, open to all.”

The initiative, which was submitted on behalf of SGA in August of last year, was met with challenges.

University administration initially said university dollars could not be used to fund the initiative, stalling the project.

Hall announced during an SGA meeting in April that the university would move forward with the installation of a wash station after the proposal was initially rejected last year.

A wash station was installed on campus in July. Hall said the installation was justified because the wash station — comprised of a sink on the floor of a family restroom in the Rhatigan Student Center and a foldable seat attached to the adjacent wall — could be used for a variety of purposes and did not cater exclusively to a specific religious group. The installation was paid for by RSC funds.

“There were some folks that were concerned that we were doing something for one religion that wasn’t beneficial to everybody else,” Hall said in July. “That’s why I want us to be clear that these floor basins are helpful to everybody.

“They’re put in for all kinds of things, not just for foot washing,” Hall said.