Ablution rooms renovations finish behind schedule

The Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) recently completed renovations on the ablution rooms at Carleton, which serve students who need to wash themselves before praying.

A previous article in The Charlatan reported that renovations were scheduled to be completed in April 2017, but they ended up being extended through the entire summer. The room officially re-opened during the first week of classes, according to CUSA president Zameer Masjedee.

Both the male and female ablution rooms are located on the second floor of the University Centre, down the hall from the Multi-Faith Centre’s prayer room. While the men’s room is a separate space, the women’s ablution room is located within a washroom.

Biftu Hulo, president of the Carleton University Muslim Students’ Association (CUMSA), said she’s very happy with the renovations.

“I think it was really well done . . . compared to what it was before,” Hulo said.

She said prior to the renovations, some of the faucets didn’t work and there were holes in the wall.

Trevor Stewart, director of capital development and construction services at Carleton, said part of the reason the construction took so long was because a lot of electrical and plumbing work was required. While the project was initially supposed to be solely cosmetic, they ended up making some major changes so the rooms would be more accessible, Stewart said.

But, Hulo said the women’s ablution room is still inaccessible, as there are stairs in front of the washing station, while the men’s side has room for a wheelchair and a detachable shower head.

“If a sister needed to use the men’s ablutions room, I don’t think there would be that much of an issue with it,” she explained.

Masjedee said the project was initially quoted at $86,000 on June 14, but costs rose due to accessibility concerns. While CUSA is still waiting on the final invoice, he said they anticipate the final cost will exceed $100,000.

In March, then-CUSA president Fahd Alhattab told The Charlatan the renovations would cost about $180,000.

The cost of the construction was split between CUSA’s budget for the last two years, but Masjedee said he still thinks the university has a responsibility to contribute.

“The initial call to action was sort of to the university, as well, to help with some of the funding for this because it was an expensive project,” he said.

A few weeks after construction was completed, the university agreed to pay $30,000 to help with construction costs, he said.

“CUSA’s really happy with that contribution,” Masjedee added.

Stewart, who worked with CUSA during the construction process, said the decision to help fund the project came from upper management. He said there’s a few factors that affect whether the university will agree to cost-share, but said religious affiliation was “not at all” a factor.

According to Masjedee, the project began when it was brought to CUSA’s attention by the university’s Muslim community. CUMSA was consulted on the renovations, according to a previous article in The Charlatan.

Michel Piché, Carleton’s vice-president (finance and administration) said in an email that “Carleton maintains a program on ongoing capital maintenance to upgrade older facilities on campus. In this particular case, the University covered the costs of the structural work required including plumbing and electrical, which we would normally do.”

Piché added that the university worked with CUSA to accommodate accessibility needs into the plans for the room.

“We don’t have specific criteria when reviewing these projects and look at them on a case by case basis assessing the needs of the client,” Piché said.

Masjedee said the renovated rooms are an accomplishment for both Carleton and the Ottawa community.

It’s actually one of the only accessible ones in the entire city. What we’re hoping for is maybe using it as an example of what an accessible ablution room could sort of look like, and it’s really nice to see that Carleton is sort of leading the way in terms of that,” he said.

Photo by Aaron Hemens