There has been on a lot of dialogue around the Orlando tragedy via social media, on our campuses and with our family and friends. I had mentioned to dear friends and colleagues that more dialogues on how we are contributing need to be shared, rather than focusing on how we are not doing well. The great work we continue to do is being lost or being overshadowed by negative stories.
I have decided to contribute to the field of Student Affairs by bringing visibility to being a Muslim in Higher Education through national conference presentations, blog posts, and pursuing research grants. I had noticed as a Muslim, we were allowing so many others to tell our story and they usually involved terror and tragedy. By defending our faith, we could be perceived as defending the acts of terrorism or supporting hate that was imposed on many. The silence meant allowing this to continue. I had students in my office feeling like they had to constantly defend who they were in the classroom. It became exhausting. They expressed that they wished that there was more education and awareness on college campuses. I had faculty from our medical school state they could not serve as the advisor to the Muslim Students Association (MSA) because they would be on “the list.” The constant need for support and awareness was real.
The recent tragedy in Orlando portrayed an image of all Muslims hating the LGBTQ+ community. This was another tragedy while mourning with our communities that we had to also find ourselves defending our faith.
After personal experiences and Muslim students feeling a lack of support, I started to seek out research. I was disappointed to find that there was not much. I have since then decided that I needed to contribute. My journey has just begun but has already made an impact. In the past year, I received funding to plan Islamic Awareness Week with MSA at NYIT. I have encouraged a group of colleagues on a national level to create social media groups for support. I have presented with a colleague at the NASPA Multicultural Institute and NASPA national conference which led to opportunities to write, connect and research. I hope that my journey continues to inspire students, colleagues and communities.
By leading this SA Collective series, I hope my colleagues will take advantage of this opportunity to share ideas that have encouraged change and dialogue personally and on their respective campuses, initiatives that bring these sensitive issues to light, and practices that have been implemented that intend to cause environmental shifts for their campus communities.
Series Question: How can you contribute solutions or actions when a tragedy like Orlando occurs as a Student Affairs professional?
As you read through our series this month, we hope you will gain inspiring insights and take time to reflect. Be sure to follow the conversation and share your thoughts on twitter, #SAProsContribute.