On Thursday, October 2nd, the Drexel Spiritual & Religious Life hall held an open house to welcome students to its new location. The new space has many offices for the different organizations, several refrigerators for all of their dietary needs, a room which will serve as the new Interfaith Chapel, multiple other prayer rooms, a foyer and a cozy little lounge with red armchairs.
The Drexel Spiritual & Religious Life Hall, which used to be housed in the Intercultural Center, is now located on the third floor of the Paul
Peck Problem Solving & Research Building. The official move-in was on Aug. 24, just a couple of weeks before the start of the term.
The building that housed the Intercultural Center used to be owned by the Catholic Church. About 6 years ago, it was bought by Drexel. Since then, it has been the home of not only the Spiritual & Religious Life Hall, but also to LGBTQIA and cultural/ethnic groups too. The hall was on the second floor, but many important religious events were often hosted in the basement or in other areas around campus. That building will now be torn down and a hotel meant to house visitors to the campus will be erected in its place.
While the changes were not necessarily what everyone had hoped for, they were all still excited to settle into their new home. “It’s a mixed bag — you know, while the chapel is smaller, we have a lot more lounge space here and it is a part of campus that students travel to a lot during the day,” Isabel de Koninck, Director of Hillel at Drexel, said. “Some of us are in bigger offices, some of us are in smaller offices.”
“The only downside is that it’s kind of small,” Numan Dugmeoglu, Vice President of the Muslim Student Association, said.
“The interfaith Chapel is about half the size of the one in the intercultural center,” Koninck agreed, “Mostly, over the last couple of years, our ministries have really been growing.”
Nevertheless, there are also positive aspects to the new location: the Peck building is closer to the dorms so students don’t have to walk as far and the inside has many accommodations which the Intercultural Center lacked, including a foot-washing station for the Muslim students.
According to Dugmeoglu, in the previous building, the Muslim Student Association “would sometimes have so many people having to wash up before praying that it would become a mess.” The station is now conveniently located right by the Muslim prayer room.
The central location was embraced by Brian Musser, the Reverend of Baptist Campus Ministries. “I don’t necessarily like the idea of a building that is just Baptist or just Christian. Quite often, in religious ideas, we try to retreat back into our own space. I want students to understand that religious and spiritual life is included in the overall university experience. I’d rather have the business department right next to me than be completely disconnected. So I kind of want that—I want the interwoven piece of it.”
The new Spiritual & Religious Life Hall currently houses five main groups: Baptist Campus Ministries, Newman Catholic, Hillel, Open Door Christian Community and the Muslim Student Association.
Disciples InDeed, a part of Baptist Campus Ministries, meets every Wednesday at 8 a.m. during this term for bible study and hosts a large monthly event on the fourth Saturday of every month. The next event will be held on Oct. 25th. Disciples InDeed also runs a program called “Find a Church,” which helps students connect to congregations in the greater Philadelphia area.
Newman Catholic holds bible study groups Monday through Thursday. Newman Nights, which are either prayer or social events, holds them every other week. They attend mass at the St. Agatha & St. James Church on Chestnut St, where they also hold Newman Dinners once a month and serve the poor on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Hillel is the center for Jewish life at Drexel. It hosts weekly Shabbat dinners, student-led Minyans, Purim and Chanukah parties. They also offer educational opportunities in the forms of guest speakers and trips to museums and Jewish cultural events.
Open Door Christian Community is, according to its Director, Sarah A Colwill, “a catch-all for a lot—even non-denominational [students].” They meet for weekly worship on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.
The MSA meets on Fridays for prayer, hosts guest speakers on different occasions and also holds bi-weekly gatherings where they discuss topics relating to college life in general, the next of which will be on Oct. 28. The MSA also holds two community service events per quarter, on Saturday mornings during weeks 6 and 9.
These five groups are the biggest, but there are also many other religious groups around campus, including a Hindu Student Group, a Mandarin-Chinese Christian Fellowship and even a Freethought Society, for the non-religious student population. Information about all the different groups can be found through Student Affairs.