Should the call to prayer ring out across the Harvard yard?

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Two issues of Muslim practice — whether the call to prayer should ring out across Harvard Yard and whether the university should grant women separate gym hours — have unleashed small waves of controversy over how Harvard practices tolerance. </p>

<p>Heated discussions have erupted on dormitory chat rooms, students said, while various opinion articles in the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, have denounced both practices. </p>

<p>“I think that because Harvard is a secular campus, there is a fear among some students that religious beliefs or practices might be imposed on people who don’t want anything to do with them,” said Jessa Birdsall, a 20-year-old sophomore who said she thought the university should accommodate the beliefs of all students.

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<p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/us/21tolerance.html?_r=1&ref=education&oref=slogin%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/us/21tolerance.html?_r=1&ref=education&oref=slogin&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I'm guessing church bells don't ring across Harvard Yard every Sunday... or prehaps they do, I've no idea.</p>

<p>Either way, call to prayer would be a step too far. I fully agree that all-women gym hours is a good idea, but this is silly because it is not necessary for Muslims to hear the call to prayer in order to keep their religious obligations. They can still pray without this bell... first thing to pop into my mind is, they can set alarms on their wrist watch or cell phone.</p>

<p>Certainly not as eloquent as a call to prayer, but why does Harvard need to have this go 5 times a day, disrupting classes and studies, when it only benefits a small minority who can still be accomodated without it? It's really a luxary, not a necessity to practice their religion.</p>

<p>I'm all for "accomodating everyone's beliefs" as Harvard said - but there is a difference between being passivly accepting of those beliefs, which students largely are, and doing something like this.</p>

<p>I agree with munchkin, it seems like more of a luxury than a necessity.</p>

<p>"I'm guessing church bells don't ring across Harvard Yard every Sunday"</p>

<p>They don't -- they ring out EVERY morning.</p>

<p>"disrupting classes and studies"</p>

<p>Disrupting? It wasn't played over the PA system in buildings. We're talking about one guy with a microphone in a large outdoor space where there are often concerts, demonstrations, and other kinds of expression. People who don't like a cappella are often helplessly subjected to it on the Widener steps as they walk to class.</p>

<p>Ok, your point is well taken, but I stand by what I said. There's no need to go above and beyond "accomadating" a minority that doesn't require the prayer call in order to attend Harvard, feel comfortable, and practice their religion freely. The issue of female gym hours is distinct in that some Muslim women are uncomfortable in the gym when men are present. The lack of a prayer call doesn't cause discomfort for anyone.</p>

<p>I'm going to agree with munchkin on this one. Although there may be a need for provisions with concern to gym hours (this is sometimes experienced by some girls at my school during P.E. class), I don't think that a call for prayer is necessary.</p>

<p>I think the gesture of considering something is polite but it is extraneous. Wristwatches are just as easy to use, while making the time aware to only those who need to know.</p>

<p>wasnt this call to prayer thing part of an islam awareness week, and thus, only rung out for a week? i see no problem with this if its on a short term basis when church bells can ring out every day...</p>

<p>The call to prayer was broadcast for a week only.</p>

<p>During Hannukah, there was a menorah in the yard, and during christmas season, there were christmas decorations everywhere. And there have been public events and recognition of other celebrations held by other religions.</p>

<p>So, I personally don't see a problem with this - since it does not occur every day. It is perfectly fine to allow various religions greater publicity as long as equal exposure is given to all religions who request it.</p>

<p>As for women's gym hours, though they were originated at the request of Islamic students, I don't see how they are applicable only to islamic students. There are many legitimate reasons why a woman might feel uncomfortable exercising in front of men, and not all of them have to deal with Islam. Have you never seen women's health clubs?</p>

<p>Well said transferapp</p>

<p>Talking about minorities, how about those few non believers or atheists? Why would they be subjected to these public displays of religion?</p>

<p>Because the whole point of Harvard is to be subjected to other people's thoughts and ideas. If Harvard's atheists request a week to stand on the Widener steps with a bullhorn and yell, "There is no God," I can just about guarantee that they'll get one.</p>

<p>If you want a place where you won't have to listen to points of view you disagree with, Harvard's not the right school.</p>

<p>I'm surprised that such a big deal was made of this. Seems like the prayer call was simply an interesting way to expose students to Muslim culture during an Islam awareness week.</p>

<p>A big deal was not made of this (nor was a big deal made of the women-only gym hours). If something turns into a debate on campus, expect multiple editorials on the topic (see: HUDS budget constraints). Neither of the previous two make the cut.</p>

<p>Also, keep in mind that you don't have to be a student to post a comment to the crimson's website...</p>

<p>Accomodating every religion sounds a bit anti-secular to me.</p>

<p>Well if it was done due to Islam Awareness Week then there is nothing wrong with it.</p>

<p>I should have done further research on it before I gave my initial post. I looked around at these posts and had heard talk about it at school and everyone made it sound long term. I apologize.</p>

<p>And transferapp put it nicely. As long as those of all religions and beliefs get the same chance so to speak, then it is fair.</p>

<p>The limiting factor at Harvard for what your allowed to do (in those departments at least) is just asking if it's alright and then making sure they understand it's an expression of your religion/politicalconvictions/constitutional right to do ____
Harvard avoids bad publicity like crazy</p>