WSUSS discusses $25,000 meditation room renovations

After+receiving+student+feedback+earlier+in+the+semester%2C+WSUSS+learned+students+who+use+the+meditation+room+space+do+so+mostly+for+religious+practices+and+as+a+%E2%80%98safe+space+to+decompress.%E2%80%99+Winona+State%E2%80%99s+Student+Union+approached+WSUSS+to+ask+for+financial+assis-+tance+of+%2425%2C000+to+put+towards+renovating+the+meditation+room.

Joseph Eichele

After receiving student feedback earlier in the semester, WSUSS learned students who use the meditation room space do so mostly for religious practices and as a ‘safe space to decompress.’ Student senators approached the whole WSUSS to ask for financial assistance of $25,000 to put towards renovating the meditation rooms.

Olivia Prondzinski, news reporter

On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, Winona State University’s Student Senate (WSUSS) reopened the conversation of renovating the meditation room in the Student Union. Student Services is requesting Student Senate allocate $25,000 to renovating the meditation rooms.

Student Services said updating the meditation rooms will make for a more inclusive campus, appealing to diverse prospective students as the current state of the meditation room is outdated and unable to fulfill students’ needs.

“Working towards a more inclusive campus is a thing we should all be working for, no matter how big or small the demographic that uses these rooms is, we have to include everyone,” explained Ember Brandon, sophomore class representative.

Winona State hopes to follow in the footsteps of other university campuses that have meditation spaces that are modern and comfortable to students with varied backgrounds. Student Services recommended these renovations be completed before the fall semester of 2022. Student Services Chair and College of Education Representative, Elise Gort, feels renovating the meditation rooms is a step in the right direction for Winona State.

“A couple months ago we gathered some feedback about the space from students that currently use the space; we asked them what they would want to change,” Gort said. “A lot of students use that space for religious practices or just as a safe space to decompress.”

Gort said the $25,000 would go towards removing the tile on the walls, fixing the flooring, removing the shower and making sure there is a proper foot bath for student use.

“With the current state of the meditation room, if a student needs that space for a religious practice and they see the space that we currently have for them on cam- pus, they’re just not going to come here,” Gort said.

Student Senate Communications Director, Tiegue Elliott, reminded the senate to think hard about the students they are representing when they voted on the matter.

Winona State’s Student Senate leadership pictured at Tuesday, April 5’s meeting. Pictured left to right: Vice President Malorie Olson, President Kaitlyn Mercier, Treasurer Kaileigh Weber and Communi- cations Director Tiegue Elliott.
Winona State’s Student Senate leadership pictured at Tuesday, April 5’s meeting. Pictured left to right: Vice President Malorie Olson, President Kaitlyn Mercier, Treasurer Kaileigh Weber and Communications Director Tiegue Elliott. (Joseph Eichele)

“I support this. I don’t meditate but if I did and my campus had a nice space for me, that would be awesome,” Elliott said.

Alliance of Student Organizations Director, Visara Sok, felt renovating the meditation room further shows Winona State cares for its students.

“As a person of color and a minority at this school, it’s very easy to be singled out and isolated,” Sok said.

Hunter Jones, college of education representative, meditates three times a day and says they have never considered using the meditation room on campus.

“I usually meditate after lunch and I remember when I was a freshman having to run back to my dorm because I didn’t want to use those rooms,” Jones said.

Some students started having to perform their meditation practices outside due to the current state of the room. Kyler Ford, college of science and engineering representative, was approached by a student voicing their concern about the space.

“Even if one student voices their opinion, I feel like it should count towards everyone as well,” Ford said. “We don’t want to scare away the students we already have because of something that they need to practice their religion or beliefs.”

A number of other student senators voiced their support of the meditation room renovation, but first they want to see a cost breakdown of the project. The Student Union committed to covering all costs over the $25,000 given by Student Senate, if their request is pushed through.

At the end of the renovation discussion, Student Senate decided to table the movement for one more week.