With support of the Chaplain’s Office and the Center for Multicultural Life, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) will be re-lauching on Muhlenberg’s campus.
The MSA has been on and off campus since 1980. According to club advisor Sharon Albert, senior lecturer in religion studies, the demographics of Muhlenberg have made it hard to maintain this club due to “the relatively small number of Muslim students on campus.”
Pastor Kristen Glass Perez explains that, while there has been a continuous presence of Muslim students on campus, not all choose to identify.
“MSA will give a stage for Muslim students to empower themselves and each other.”
This is why Albert feels this club is so valuable. She believes it will “open the space for Muslims to represent themselves rather than being represented primarily by well-intentioned allies.”
The club is set to provide a space to share common issues, interests and concerns. In addition, it creates a forum for raising awareness for issues that Muslims may face on campus and beyond.
Students feel much the same way. According to Nour Yousry ‘23, “Berg MSA is a home among this one, and its expansion will allow Muslims to feel part of a community.” It is a place where they can “share their Muslim values and traditions.”
Students also hope that the MSA can also be a place for learning and hearing other students’ insights on their own values and traditions.
Current president of the organization Aya Kanan ‘23 emphasizes that the association is “for everyone, and [is] not limited to just Muslims on campus.” The club’s events and meetings are open to people of any faith or no faith. A primary goal that the club has is to build a strong community of family, friends and allies on campus.
While the club is still starting up, they look ahead to the month of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. The organization is planning on hosting the meal of Iftar, the breaking of the fast meal that occurs at dusk. They hope for this to be the main event of the semester and have hopes of inviting MSA students from neighboring LVAIC colleges.
“’Berg MSA is a home among this one, and its expansion will allow Muslims to feel part of a community.”
At the moment, the College does not host religious services for Muslims themselves, but they are helping students find and access a dedicated space for Salat daily prayers and are willing to provide anything that students would request. They are also able to refer students to off campus spaces as needed.
The club leaders have decided that they want to start small. They are starting with advertising the club and attracting new members. Ultimately, Yousry hopes that the “MSA will give a stage for Muslim students to empower themselves and each other” as well as “allow for the inclusion of more diverse groups on our campus.”