[International Campus from Probing Eyes] Sign of Globalization Plan’s Success: Emergence of Cultural Dilemma
[International Campus from Probing Eyes] Sign of Globalization Plan’s Success: Emergence of Cultural Dilemma
  • Reporter Kim Sung-hwan
  • 승인 2011.04.13 00:52
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International students make a request

Recently, the Dormitory for International Cultural Exchange (DICE) adopted a new policy for its third floor lounge. As shown in the picture posted, the Muslim community in DICE has received permission to use the room for five specific time periods each day, as Muslims have a religious obligation to pray five times each day at a specific time, which changes depending on the movement of the sun.

▲ A notice in front of the lounge acknowledges the times for prayer.

The third floor lounge is a place where those entering have to take off their shoes. Though prayer can be performed anywhere that is not morally filthy, the Muslim students preference for a fixed place for prayer is understandable.

What it means

The Muslim community began to voice its request with its increasing population. The international students’ demands, if rational, are a rather good sign. If a certain demand is brought to the surface, it means that the community making the demand is large enough to be visible. The incident shows that the globalization of the school has made some improvement.

What we need

Now the problem is how the school could solve this incident sagaciously with a solution that would have the least criticism.

Example from another institute

As an example, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science Technology (KAIST) designated one of the administrative office’s rooms as a prayer room for Muslims. Muslims can freely visit and pray. The visitors to this room are from various countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Morocco, Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

Can we follow this precedent? Talking about this idea to my Christian friends, they suggested that it is not fair to provide a certain room for a certain religion. They commonly said a school needs to maintain its neutrality. A higher education institution needs to maintain its neutrality. But setting aside a room for Muslims to pray is not against neutrality.

The concept here is to provide the minimal effort for effective work and a lively environment, not the school favoring a specific religion. It is just providing a room to people from a common cultural background.

Also other religions such as Christianity or Buddhism have available places for prayer all over or do not have such strictness in belief. But there is none in existence for Muslims. An advocate to provide a place just because there is none available may encounter much opposition if we consider them as outsiders only. But as soon as they enter POSTECH, they are insiders.

Nisar Ahmed, the first Muslim student at POSTECH, said, “There are 57 Muslim countries. As the first Muslim to come to POSTECH, I am like a middle-man. Many Muslims beforehand asked about me two things, food and a place for prayer. There is no place for prayer here. They want to come, but they can’t.”

We are all Postechians

Modifying all the school environments and systems to attract foreigners to come would be a rather servile attitude for an advanced academic facility. What has been suggested is for the welfare of those who are already Postechians. The two are totally different.

We need some flexibility and time to think about our own school members within the circle.