Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Islamification" or Simply Serving The Customer

This may be old news, but I just had a friend point me to an article about the University of Michigan at Dearborn installing foot washing stations to accommodate the religious desires of nearly 10% of it's student population.
DEARBORN, Mich. — When pools of water began accumulating on the floor in some restrooms at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and the sinks pulling away from the walls, the problem was easy to pinpoint. On this campus, more than 10 percent of the students are Muslims, and as part of ritual ablutions required before their five-times-a-day prayers, some were washing their feet in the sinks.

The solution seemed straightforward. After discussions with the Muslim Students’ Association, the university announced that it would install $25,000 foot-washing stations in several restrooms.

But as a legal and political matter, that solution has not been quite so simple. When word of the plan got out this spring, it created instant controversy, with bloggers going on about the Islamification of the university, students divided on the use of their building-maintenance fees, and tricky legal questions about whether the plan is a legitimate accommodation of students’ right to practice their religion — or unconstitutional government support for that religion.

Some have said that this constitutes the "Islamification" (as if that was a real word and derogatory too boot) of the University. Given the population around Dearborn tends toward a large number of Muslim people of all stripes, it seems to me that it makes practical business sense.

Since when is serving your customer a crime in a capitalist society? Perhaps, we all should periodically wash our feet through out the day. Even if it weren't for religious reasons, maybe there is some solid hygienic reason for it. It was good enough for Jesus, no?


Anonymous said...

Of course the hysterical right isn't going to appreciate your very astute comment that this is "merely serving the customer".

Personally, I think it's great.

Anonymous said...

Catch 22 v2.0

In the footsteps of Jesus on dirt paths through the dung of camels, goats, sheep, pigs, etc.; hygienic reasons to wash the feet that are unnecessary today.

So the University provides unnecessary foot baths to the irrational as a business decision? That's as sound as a university providing free cigarettes, world's lowest priced IQ test.

Pedagogically, serving irrationality is counter to the university's educational mission. Why would any student want to attend Irrational University?