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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    MSA, Hillel Welcome All

    Religious organizations on campus have the potential to unite and separate students at the same time. At SBU, religious groups like the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and The Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life often hold events that welcome all students and create awareness of their religions.

    Both groups have worked together in the past and they often collaborate with other organizations to show they are an active part of the campus community. According to Alexis Klonsky, program director of Hillel, both groups are working on a fundraiser to combat malaria and they are planning an event to increase student awareness of the crisis in Darfur this semester.

    The MSA organizes about three to four events a month. Two weeks ago they held Islam Awareness Week for the first time. Members educated other students, and helped to break stereotypes and ignorance. Events included a town meeting about Muslim women, a question and answer session about Islam, and ‘Islam around the World’ where members set up information tables during campus lifetime to show how Islam is practiced in many countries.

    Fawzia Syed, a freshman and member of MSA said that it is important that the organization does things outside of itself and that they are verbal about Islam. ‘If anyone’s going to erase the ignorance it has to be us,’ she said.

    Syed also stressed that where MSA is active, you see less ignorance, and that Muslims at SBU aren’t very shy. According to Munzareen Padela, a sophomore and member of MSA, people were pausing and picking up materials during campus life. ‘People are realizing we are not so isolated,’ she said.

    But not all students on Long Island are so well informed.

    Last month, five resident assistants at C.W. Post made a mock terrorist video, where they spoke in Middle Eastern accents while threatening to hold hostage their residence hall mascot, a rubber duck. The music in the background was identified by Muslims in the community as the sacred call to prayer.

    Both the college and local Muslims were offended by the video and the school initially took their jobs away. The students sued the college in a $2.5 million wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuit. After meeting with the Islamic Center of Long Island and proving that they were remorseful for their actions, the students and the school agreed to settle on the case but no specifics were disclosed.

    The college, according to Newsday, said it hopes to see more communication with Muslims in the community and to raise awareness and sensitivity to cultural diversity.

    Adam Osman, a senior and the president of MSA, said that Islam has a long history of being in America and there is still a lot of ignorance. He said that those who are terrorists are a marginalized minority and that the media plays into people’s own biases.

    Osman continued with the idea that there is misinformation about everything but those who are curious enough will learn. In regards to this video, he said, ‘I would assume university students would have the intellectual curiosity to go and learn about something correctly than believe propaganda being fed to them through the media that all Muslims are terrorists.’

    According to Padela, part of the problem of ignorance is that Muslims try to isolate themselves and not reach out to see what makes America so diverse. ‘America is a country of immigrants’hellip;We need to embrace society here,’ she said.

    As for the students who made the video, Padela said that when you are a resident assistant, you are in a position where the things you do represent your employer. ‘It gives the student population a bad reputation if you can find humor in what’s offensive,’ she said.

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