This version of this article corrects errors in paragraphs 2 and 3.
Muslim students at Ryerson are feeling displaced now that they have lost their dedicated space to perform ablutions.
Ablution, a ritual cleansing, is a Muslim obligation. The process is known as Wudu, and is performed before each prayer.
After a flood last June, renovations to the multifaith washrooms at Ryerson’s Student Campus Centre (SCC) began in March. Muslims students were directed to other washrooms in the building to perform ablutions.
However, signs were recently posted asking those students not to use those washrooms. It’s not known who posted the signs.
Michael Verticchio, general manager for the SCC, says the multifaith washrooms were demolished on March 23 and have been unusable since June.
“This is the first time I am hearing about these signs and I am surprised nobody has reported their existence,” Verticchio said when showed the signs.
“I have never seen this sign. If my management team or I post anything, I will either sign my name or sign it off as management.”
Verticchio said the signs are not authorized by the SCC management, and they wouldn’t authorize anyone else to post them.
“Our bathrooms are available for everybody to use, whether performing ablutions or not,” he said.
Verticchio says his team explored all options, but the bathrooms could not be repaired.
“Given changes to accessibility standards and other building code requirements, it was determined that the bathrooms would need to be completely redesigned and renovated,” he said.
Students who want to perform ablutions are frustrated because they are forced to use different washrooms in the SCC, and even some in the engineering building, Podium and the Student Learning Centre (SLC).
“It has been disruptive because we need to find different places to do Wudu (ablution), and sometimes our clothing can make it difficult, like jeans, to wash our feet,” said a second-year civil engineering student, who wishes to stay anonymous.
“Some people also may not understand, and so Muslims may feel intimidated or shy when making Wudu.”
Aisha Syed, a second-year student and Muslim Students’ Association member, has been forced to avoid using Ryerson washrooms for ablutions altogether.
“It’s definitely been an inconvenience, so I try and make it at home,” she said.
Fourth-year civil engineering student, Saad Butt, said finding alternaitve washrooms is time-consuming.
“Since the washrooms weren’t available on the third-floor, all of that traffic would have to go up and down the stairs to find available washrooms, making lines longer.”
Although the new washroom layout will facilitate ablutions, students are still upset with the wait.
“It’s very disappointing to see the response time from the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU). It took them a year to start fixing it,” said Obaid Ullah, a second-year mechanical engineering student, and incoming RSU vice-president of operations.
“At the beginning it made Muslim students very uncomfortable and insecure to use the washrooms for it (ablution). I hope it’s done soon so students can resume their prayers and be content.”
Verticchio said that the SCC management team will be monitoring the situation and remove any posted signs.
The multifaith washrooms are expected to be ready for use by the end of April.