The Ural Smith Jr. Reflection Room opened on the Ivy Tech Community College’s Indianapolis campus in September to provide students, faculty, and staff a private space for prayer, meditation, lactation, de-escalation efforts, and restorative justice.
The Reflection Room is on the second floor of the Illinois Fall Creek Center (IFC), near the Center for Intercultural Excellence. It is named in honor of the late Ural Smith, Jr., who helped the Ivy Tech Indianapolis campus change and grow immensely over the years.
Smith was on the Ivy Tech Indianapolis Campus Board of Trustees for many years, during which he served as the board chair from 2007 to 2011, and in 2014 he was awarded the title of “Trustee Emeritus.”
A plaque outside of the Reflection Room reads, in part:
“Ural Smith, Jr. was a steadfast champion for student access and success at Ivy Tech. This reflection room is dedicated to his great faith, quiet leadership and strong commitment to the College and its mission.”The Ural Smith, Jr. Reflection Room
Ivy Indy is the first Ivy Tech campus with a room of this kind.
“I think it’s beautiful, honestly,” Dr. Lizette Rivera, the Ivy Tech Indy’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, said. “For me, it really shows the college’s commitment to diversity, equity, and belonging.”
Inside the Reflection Room are prayer rugs, mats, prayer beads, a chair, and a table. There is also a bookshelf on which the Diversity and Community Engagement team invites anyone who utilizes the room to leave any religion-related reading material.
The Reflection Room remains locked at all times and operates on a first-come-first-served basis.
Zack, an Ivy Tech Indianapolis student, spoke with Dr. Rivera about his appreciation for the Reflection Room in a video. Zack explained the simplicity of the room helps keep the distractions at bay.
“The whole point — at least from my perspective — on why it’s so simplistic is necessary because it kind of gives you the chance to be alone, to be in your own solitude,” Zack said.
Zack said he used to ask professors where he could find a room to pray in and often struggled to find one that ensured privacy and wasn’t being used for a class.
“I personally love this room because it gives me the chance to be by myself. I’ve been at Ivy Tech for about a year and a half now and I kind of had issues when it came to praying here,” he said. “I kind of had to usually just figure it out or walk around aimlessly to try and find a room. And the reason this room resonates with me so much is because now I don’t have to do that. Now I don’t have to waste so much time. I can come in here.”
Those interested in using the reflection room can visit Dr. Rivera’s office in IFC 202B or the front desk at the Center for Intercultural Excellence in IFC 202A. The Center for Intercultural Excellence is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or as needed.