By Olivia Dudley
In our world, it is often difficult for one to express their religion. No matter how many times we are reminded that we have the right to religious freedom in America, there will always be people who oppose what you believe in, even if it is the culture you were born into. Here at University of Baltimore, equality among all students is highly promoted, we pride ourselves on our diversity.
Some of you may or may not know that UB is home to a Muslim Student Association (MSA). The association allows Muslim students to come together and perform various social activities such as charity events and lectures. The MSA’s intentions are to integrate the Islamic culture into their American lives. In order to learn more about the MSA, we reached out to its president, Amber Khan, for more details.
What do you hope to achieve with and for the MSA?
What I hope to continue to do with the MSA is to grow the organization to continue to bring out great events, with excellent topics, knowledgeable speakers, and great food! I would also like to get the general UB community more involved in what actually is put out, by having more open meeting for everyone to feel welcome to and share their thoughts and ideas. Lastly, I would love to see the MSA get a room for prayer and meetings so there can be a place for everyone to meet and really grow their ideas.
Has the Association had any difficulties with the Interfaith room in the Student Center?
Seeing as Muslims pray five times a day, where we pray becomes an issue at school. The school has provided us with the IFC, and after expressing our concerns for the lack of resources given to us in accordance to the IFC room, we were able to get some yoga mats that are open to everyone to use so that we didn’t have to pray making direct contact with the ground. However, the problem is the accessibility to the room. We as students don’t have much time to go through the process of going to the student center desk, signing yourself into the room, and then being escorted with a staff member into the room where only they have access to open the doors.
What is the MSA planning for Islam Awareness Week?
Islamic awareness week will be taking place April 18-22. On Monday, April 18th, we’re continuing our tradition with starting off the week in Gordon plaza, giving out roses, popcorn, drinks and more! The aim for this event is make people aware of the Islamic awareness week, and we are giving these things away, along with the schedule for the rest of the week to help keep everyone on track! The best way to stay updated about events is to join the Facebook page: UB Muslim Student Association.
In what ways does the MSA try to encourage interactions between Muslim and non-Muslim students? What sort of events are held to do this?
We are always in support of non-Muslims and Muslims to join. All of our events display a neutral topic, however, have an Islamic points to help fulfill the mission of the MSA. Also the MSA likes to do events to give back to the community! And UB more than any school loves to be involved in helping others. A couple of weeks ago, we were able to provide through a national sponsor, ingredients of foods! We created a couple assembly lines, made almost two hundred sandwiches and lunch bags, and then walked around the city handing them out.
Later in April, we are doing the same thing, but assembling hygiene kits and then distributing those on the streets of Baltimore. There’s no need for anyone to feel like they need to be Muslim in order to involve themselves in these events!
What are you most proud of when it comes to the MSA at UB?
Seeing as the MSA was only around for two or three years before I took presidency, I think it’s great to see how much the organization has grown. Hearing about how it had only started off as a few people, and to see it grow so much in these past two years just makes me so happy to see all the hard work that goes into these events and activities pay off.
What would you like to say to those thinking about joining the MSA but are unsure if they want to?
To not feel nervous or anything! We have a great time at our events. The only way to be sure about it is to come to an event, and even if at the very least they don’t enjoy the event – they’ll have a plate of free food! Just come in, join, listen, comment, and eat!
We live in a world where it is often difficult for people to understand one another’s differences. It is opportunities like Islam Awareness Week that allow us to come together and learn about another culture that may not be our own. As we venture out into the world we should be open to learning about other cultures and discovering new things as a whole. But venturing out into the world can be pretty expensive, lucky for us we can experience another culture right here on our own campus!