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Prayer policy under discussion

 The Faculty Senate will meet today in the Student Union Ballroom at 3:30 p.m. to discuss a proposed change by the Minority and Diversity Issues Committee to VSU’s policy on public prayer.

On May 20, the committee proposed new language for the prayer policy. The prayer policy previously said “Minority and Diversity Issues Committee recommends the campus community be mindful that public prayer at official VSU events can make attendees feel marginalized.”

 According to DeAndre Jones, SGA representative for the committee, the policy was sent back for revisions.

 At today’s meeting, the committee will present their new proposed policy. The proposal, which is a response to a university-wide diversity audit, says  “Valdosta State University is an increasingly diverse community with persons from many social, demographic, and religious backgrounds. In response to the results of the recent diversity audit, the Minority and

Diversity Issues Committee recommends the campus community be mindful of the following: The University may not engage in conduct that advances or inhibits religion. Silent reflections or non-religious inspirational passages are appropriate alternatives to religious based references and practices.”

 Even though no comments could be obtained by anyone on the committee about the diversity audit or why they decided to make these changes, the committee did mention the diverse community of VSU based on people from many social demographics and religious backgrounds.

 The amendments still allow silent reflections or non-religious inspirational passages as appropriate alternatives to religious based references and practices.

 Though the changes allow VSU events to hold a moment for religious reflections, some students felt as though it limited people’s freedom of speech.

 David Auguste, a junior philosophy and economy major, believes that if the prayer is not mandatory then he doesn’t see why people are not allowed to pray at events anymore.

 Mark Harris, a senior psychology major, sees the changes proposed by the Faculty Senate as a good and bad thing.

  “One aspect is that people won’t feel uncomfortable in the sense that everyone is not of the same religion for not praying but at the same time, you do have that freedom to praise religiously,” Harris said.

 Faculty Senate meetings are open to all students and staff members at VSU who are interested in attending.

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