"There is no room for negotiation and there will be no more further conversation"
Western’s longest-serving chaplain, along with four of his colleagues, has resigned in protest over the recently announced move of the Chaplains’ Services offices and a dedicated Muslim prayer space in the University Community Centre.
Rev. Michael Bechard, Western’s Roman Catholic chaplain, submitted his resignation and those of Janet Loo, Annette Donovan Panchaud, Melissa Page Nichols and Maija Wilson from the UWO Chaplains’ Association, to University President Amit Chakma on Friday.
The University announced last week that the current Muslim prayer room in University College would be moved along with the Chaplains’ Services offices to one space in the basement of the UCC. In addition, the current multi-faith space in the UCC will no longer be used.
“I am uneasy with the fact that the university is providing a dedicated space to the Muslim community when such privileges are not being granted to any other body,” he said.
Rev. Karen Low, United Church Chaplain, said in an email that the chaplains were concerned with the allocation of space that was available for the entire community.
“With the current situation — a designated Muslim prayer space and no space available for the prayer and reflection needs of others — we are presented with an issue of justice and equality."
Equality is against the Islamic religion. So is justice.
The whole point of Islam is to impose inferiority on other religions. That affirms the specialness of Muslims or Muslim privilege. So no they aren't willing to share.
Bechard said the new space could be used in-between Muslim prayer times for students of other faiths to use.
Kado Zimmo, president of the Muslim Students’ Association, said the needs of the Muslim community mean they need a space specifically for them.
“It is difficult to share the space because there are certain regulations that need to be upheld within the prayer space.”
Bechard was also critical of the way the decision was reached. He said the only people at the table were the Muslim chaplain, another two chaplains, the Muslim Students’ Association and the University.
“Many of these meetings took place without the rest of the chaplains being drawn into the conversation or even informed of the meetings,” Bechard said. “And to be told [after the fact] by administration that there is no room for negotiation and there will be no more further conversation, I think, is nonsense.”