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ISSUE 117 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/30/2004

Flattening of Flaten razes mosque, not spirits

By Jaruwan Punyoyai
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 30, 2004

Groundbreaking for the new science complex is less than two years away. This means, among many other things, that students will have to say farewell to Flaten Hall. While most students agree that Flaten Hall is in dire need of a much-overdue demolition, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) will be losing something very close to their hearts when the old art building is leveled -- the St. Olaf mosque.

In a large room on the east end of Flaten, students have congregated all year in Muslim worship. The mosque, nestled into the corner of Flaten's second floor, has become a center for Islamic worship and study on campus. Muslim Student Association (MSA) President Salah Mohamed `07 expressed the importance of the mosque to St. Olaf students. "We have a service every Friday, in which students from St. Olaf and Carleton can worship. But students can also use the mosque for studying purposes," Mohammad said. Mohamed was referring to the Islamic library located in the mosque; the books there were acquired free of charge from Islamic organizations in the metro area.

Flaten Hall has a long history of flexibility. It was built for the St. Olaf art department but was actually first used as a residence, known as East Hall. Eventually, it came to house the art department, but most recently, it has become the home of the education department and TRIO programs (Student Support Services/Professional Exploration Program, Educational Talent Serach, Upward Bound), in addition to the St. Olaf mosque. The building was named for a father-son pair of St. Olaf professors, Nils and Arnold Flaten. Though it will soon be deomolished, Flaten Hall will certainly be remembered by those who lived, worked -- and for members of the MSA -- worshiped there.

The MSA has attempted to rehabilitate their corner of Flaten. Their most recent task has been to repaint the mosque walls in the dilapidated building. The painting has been a collaborative project between MSA members and St. Olaf staff. Mohamed credits staff members Pete Sandberg and Cathy Glampe with lending their assistance to the project. The painting is near completion, and the Mosque's patrons are pleased with their work; the new coat adds a lustrous look to the large room of worship. MSA member Abu Farah `07 described the mosque's new look as "beautiful."

As for the future, Islamic students are looking for a new site for the mosque. Though the MSA has grown fond of Flaten Hall, many of them completed Student Support Services there -- they remain enthusiastic that wherever the new mosque is, it will be somewhere just as accommodating as Flaten.

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