(Photo via www.seattletimes.com)
Volunteer Writer: Ray Davis
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA – Imagine that you are hustling to class, and you come across an expanse of stone inviting you to slow down and stop in for a while.
What you were imagining is a labyrinth!
A committee made up of faculty and staff across many departments on the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus has been working for many years to imagine and create a labyrinth that would allow UMass Dartmouth students, faculty, staff, and members of the public to reflect, walk, and take a breath.
However, in 2018 due to the change of leadership at the University, all of the committee’s hard work suddenly halted.
According to the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life page, the project’s main sponsor, “A labyrinth consists of a single path winding back and forth in a series of seven concentric rings, all the while leading to a center point.”
Now, the labyrinth committee wants to bring awareness to how a labyrinth can positively impact the campus and wishes to seek approval from university leadership in the future.
How can a labyrinth create a positive impact on the UMassD campus?
Dr. Crystal Lubinsky, Director of the Religious Studies Program and member of the Labyrinth Project committee, says, “So many different religious and spiritualities use labyrinths that it was an attempt to provide a place for reflection that anyone and everyone could use.”
Lubinsky adds, “It is also a place where one could meditate while walking the labyrinth. Mindfulness and its effect on mental health and student stress were two things the campus was interested in generating for our campus.”
Shelly Metivier Scott, Associate Dean of Students in the Division of Student Affairs and committee member of the Labyrinth Project, says, “The Labyrinth Project has always been a labor of love. Much more than a symbol of spiritual connectedness, the Labyrinth can engage everyone in our community in different ways. I have great faith in this project and look forward to seeing its progress.”
“I think the labyrinth project is very important, and especially now that we are just getting out of a global pandemic, a place to reflect and get away from the day-to-day stress of life is crucial,” says Naomi Mwangi, a Sophomore Psychology Student in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Mwangi adds, “I think the committee should start exploring ways to get the labyrinth project on the move once again. It is needed now more than ever! We can host information sessions, maybe including a table in the Campus Center to collect donations.”
What is the biggest obstacle this project must overcome to be successful?
Lubinsky says, “It fell through largely due to the noncommittal nature of the beautification committee… The admin at that time had decided they would match our contribution… We had donations and a campus bank account set up to pay our half….”
The committee raised nearly $25,000, half of what they needed to continue the project but has yet to receive their match from the university leadership.
Lubinsky adds, “Funding may have been a problem, but we didn’t get far enough with it for that to be an obstacle. The committee wasn’t a problem as we volunteered to table at all the campus events, so it largely fizzled with the admin.”
Are you interested in helping make the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Labyrinth a reality?
You can donate to the campaign fund!
For more information about how to get involved in the labyrinth project, or to request information about purchasing a memorial brick donation, contact Frank Lucca, Coordinator of the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, at (508) 999-8872, email firstname.lastname@example.org.