Honoring Muslim Lives at UW Madison

Students gathered in the Multicultural Student Center Lounge in the Red Gym last week to discuss the recent shooting of 3 Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as well as the implications of this event on the UW-Madison campus. The event, hosted by the University of Wisconsin’s Muslim Student Association, served as an opportunity to discuss the the media coverage of this event as well as the daily realities of potential misconceptions or fear of discrimination that Muslim students face on campus.

Image via the Badger Herald

Image via the Badger Herald

Students who identify as Muslim were joined by allies and supporters who attended in solidarity. The gathering allowed students to voice their personal experiences, particularly around what it is like to feel isolated on campus due to their religious identity, stereotypes and misperceptions of their culture. Due to biased media coverage, a growing anti-Muslim sentiment across the US, and a general lack of knowledge or awareness about Islam students on campus may face harrasment or discrimination because of their faith practices.

Assistant Dean and Director of the Multicutural Student Center, Joshua Moon Johnson, was present at the event to hear and attend to the needs of the MSC community. The diverse group voiced a collective appreciation for the space to dialogue in community and left the room with a wide array of emotions. Johnson encouraged students to report any incidents of hate or bias that may occur on campus to the hate and bias incident reporting form to the Dean of Students Office. According to a statement from Dean Lori Berquam:

“A bias incident is an intentional threat or act of harassment or intimidation — verbal, written or physical — that targets a member of the UW community or the general public because of an actual or perceived characteristic of that person. (Expression of an idea or opinion that a person finds offensive does not, per se, constitute an act of bias.) To read the full policy on bias incidents, click here.

From research and personal interactions, the university recognizes that many incidents, large and small, can go unreported. Someone who experiences or witnesses an incident may feel uncomfortable discussing it — or even feel that doing so may threaten their safety. Even if an act itself is unintentional, it can negatively affect others — regardless of whether those others were the intended audience.”

If you have witnessed or experienced a bias-related incident, you can either submit a form electronically to the Dean of Students Office, or you may report an incident in person (click here for a list of office locations). You can come in person to 75 Bascom Hall and ask to speak with the on-call dean, or call 608-263-5700 to make an appointment.

To learn more about MSA or the experience of Muslim students on campus, we recommend attending one of the many informative and amazing events hosted by MSA on campus. “The Muslim Students Association is a cultural, social, educational, and religious organization dedicated to learning, activism, and spirituality on campus. MSA is open to all UW and Madison community members. This organization provides you with a great environment to meet Muslims, learn from renowned lecturers, and practice Islam as freely as possible. The MSA holds numerous events every semester that range from socials, to volunteering opportunities, speaker events, interfaith dialogue, and many, many more.”

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ABOVE: Students pose following an event hosted by MSA. Click on the image to read about the Fast-A-Thon, an annual event held by the Muslim Students Association (MSA), that allows students of different backgrounds to come together to celebrate the culture of fasting in Islam.

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