University to consider cost of prayer garden, student memorial

A prayer garden, a place for students to reflect, relax and meditate, could be approved by the Physical Plant. 

Student Body Vice President of Operations Joshua Simpson said he had been working with campus advancement and the Rev. Angela Kaufman, minister to the university, to install a prayer garden behind Jarvis Hall, depending on the cost.

The garden would be a quiet place for people of all faiths or of no faith at all to pray, reflect and think deeply, Simpson said.

Sophomore nursing major Madeline Nagel said she thinks students would appreciate the prayer garden and find it useful.

“I think that is a great idea, this is something TCU does not have,” Nagel said. “We have the Commons, but there aren’t many places to sit and be away from people. I would totally use it.”

Campus Advancement, a committee within the Student House of Representatives, sent a proposed design to the Physical Plant with architects designing a plan, Simpson said. The cost would be unknown until the design is sent back.

“We are thinking the centerpiece of the garden would be some type of fountain in natural stone, and over that would be a trellis area,” he said. “The whole garden will be made using natural materials, we would like to have flowers, bushes and things like that but we are very open to working with physical plant,” he said.

If the plans for the garden come back and are too expensive for SGA they will try to go through Student Affairs and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life for funding, Simpson said.

Sophomore pre-major Tad Balfour said he thought the prayer garden would be a good place to get away from the hustle and bustle of university life. It would also be a nice place to study outside, he said.

Simpson also noted the importance of making the garden a stress-free area.

“We want it to be a very natural and soothing environment, trees and plants would be great as well as benches and places for students to reflect,” Simpson said. “We would like it to be semi-exclusive so if people are walking by you don’t feel like they are watching you but not so exclusive that no one can see you at all, we want a healthy mix between that, also, to avoid any safety issues.”

Simpson said there were two big projects the Campus Advancement committee has been working on. One is the prayer garden and the other is a student memorial. Both of these projects are being reviewed by the Physical Plant, which would give a cost estimation. Depending on the budgetary restraints, SGA would go from there, Simpson said. 

“We would love for both to happen, but if we had to fund one with SGA dollars it would probably be the student memorial first,” Simpson said.

“I think for TCU’s image, both the prayer garden and the student memorial would be a good idea,” Balfour said. “I know we have the veterans memorial, which a lot of people like, [but] the student memorial would also be a nice tribute.” Balfour said. 

“We would love for both to happen, but if we had to fund one with SGA dollars, it would probably be the student memorial first,” Simpson said.

Simpson also said he does not know when construction will start, and that it would be a wait-and-see process after construction prices are discussed.

Efforts to contact Kaufman about the prayer garden were unsuccessful.