University of Calgary students have a new place to gather, meditate and pray — regardless of their particular faith — as the Vitruvian Space has opened its doors for those who are looking for a mental pause and spiritual refresh.
"This is the only space that's a place for quiet reflection," said Adriana Tulissi, a community engagement manager with the Students' Union Wellness Centre.
"When people walk into this space, it feels welcoming. It feels calming."
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The newly renovated multi-faith space, named after Leonardo da Vinci's The Vitruvian Man, is located in the basement of the university's dining centre and has four separate rooms.
"We've just seen such an increased demand in need for students for this kind of space," said Tulissi.
"As well, with the roll-out of the campus mental health strategy here in December, really, the campus is here to support the spiritual well-being of students."
The Faith and Spirituality Centre has seen use of its existing multi-faith spaces grow to 1,800 students per week in 2015, up from 1,300 in 2010, according to the university.
Theresa Kenney, a fourth-year student in political science and English, said she was "ecstatic" to see the new Vitruvian Space open.
"It's so exciting for students to actually have a nice space on campus that's inclusive and promoting diversity and pluralism," she said.
Daniel Mok, a fourth-year student in linguistics, was similarly thrilled.
"It looks beautiful," he said after taking a tour of the space. "It's amazing. I'm just flabbergasted by how big and great it is."
Mok said the new space will be a big improvement for the Christian group he belongs to, which used to use several smaller rooms around campus for prayer on a more ad hoc basis.
"We use these spaces because we regard faith as something that's special and something sacred," he said. "Even though campus is supposed to be a secular place, we want to see somewhere that's easy to use to practise our faith on an everyday basis."
"It's quite important to have that space that's considered sacred."
The Vitruvian Space will be open daily form 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is available for a variety of uses.
"Students can come to this space to drop in and pray, mediate, reflect," Tulissi said. "Or they can book the space for regular, reoccurring events."