29 November 2011
The center for English Language and Orientation at Boston University installed ritual foot baths in its bathrooms as part of its remodelling. The initiative was taken by the university without the student's requesting it.
Students come from all over the world to master English at Boston University. The majority are Muslims
Muslim prayer rooms and foot baths have also been installed in Boston University's student union.
"We have to pray five times, and every five times we have to wash," said student Reeema Alashgar.
It is a ritual that includes washing the feet.
"Using our bathroom ended up being a messy situation with a lot of water on the floor," said Center director Margot Veldivia.
"The students have been very grateful. They didn't ask for this but rather we understood the tradition and how necessary it was in their daily lives," she said.
"I was amazed. Before we used to have to use the sink" said student Omar Biyari.
Across the country a number of universities, including the University of Michigan in Dearborn and George Washington University in Washington D.C., have installed foot baths.
So have two airports, the Indianapolis Airport and KCI Airport in Kansas City, Missouri. In each case the move came with some degree of resistance.
Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called the foot baths at the University of Michigan an "accommodation we're making to one religion at the expense of the others." He called it "un- American."
Most students we spoke to welcomed the extra effort. Others questioned sharing a religious ritual in a public bathroom.
"In a public place, not everyone shares the same religions and beliefs," said one student.
"We don't look at it like that. This is a large population," said Veldivia. "We are dedicated to the students in global harmony. They count. That's what we're here for," she said.
Some of the foot baths in other states were built using public funds. The American Civil Liberties Union generally objects to public money being used for religious structures. But they don't take issue with the foot baths because, they say, anyone can use them.
"University Installs Foot Baths For Muslims" WCVB
November 29, 2011
"BOSTON UNIVERSITY UNDER FIRE FOR INSTALLING FOOTBATHS FOR MUSLIM STUDENTS" Boston Channel
November 29, 2011