Like many schools, Central Michigan University is home to many different student groups.
One that’s been re-activated this year, after an eight-year hiatus, is the Muslim Student Association.
About 50 people turned out for the first meeting of the Muslim Student Association, or MSA. Most men wore blue jeans, and sweatshirts.
While most of the women wore traditional dresses and hijabs over their heads. Many of the members identified themselves as Muslim, and said they wanted to help people learn about the religion of Islam.
A couple of nearby tables held refreshments. A mix of east and west: middle eastern coffee, dates and pizza.
MSA Secretary Caleb Ross said he was pleased with the turnout. “I think people are just generally excited that we’re getting together and actually trying to do something for furthering the knowledge of Islam. Because there’s a lot of misconceptions about Islam in modern society, the media, and various outlets of information. And we’re just trying to spread the truth and try to further the understanding of Islam.”
Ross estimates there are some 200 Muslims on the campus of CMU.
The new student group’s President Mishari Alkhuwaiter would like to see that number grow saying, “We have a really clear vision of why we wanted this, it’s for the increasing number of Muslims that we have here. We wanted to promote, and make more awareness about Muslims and Islam, about our culture, about our religion. I believe that this will create more understanding, love and harmony, and of course because we want the Muslim community to have a voice.”
The Muslim group members say they hope to educate students on campus about Muslims and Islam. Based on some conversations we had with students before the holiday break, there is room for education.
I asked CMU students on campus if they were aware CMU had a Muslim Student Association. Freshmen Nick Boyer, juniors Caleb Wagar and Callie Schulke, and senior Jake Aldrich were all not aware of the group being brought back. I also asked how much they knew about Islam in general. All four had either little to no knowledge at all.
Alkhuwaiter said the Muslim group will begin work in the new year to reach out to other students.
Alkuwaiter outlined next semester’s events stating, “We’ll be opening a table at the Bovee Center. We’ll have books. We’ll be giving out books for free, answering any questions you have about Islam. And I think that’s very important, we want the Muslim community to be officially represented here. We have let’s say our major event. Which will host a speaker, we have a short list of speakers, but we’re still not sure who exactly is gonna come. However, the topic will be about Islam, harmony, love and respect.”
According to Alkhuwaiter, one of the group’s first goals will be letting people know they’re here. “We have few activities and events; however, what we would like to do is raise awareness that there is a Muslim Students Association back registered at CMU. We would like to have a large base of members, we would like to have Muslims, and especially non-Muslims, we would like to have as I said, host a speaker, because I think CMU the students they’re open to new information, open to different cultures, and I think that this will be easy for us to do.”
Alkhuwaiter said it’s important the Muslim community has an official representation on campus.
He says the MSA plans to work closely with CMU and the Mount Pleasant community, and become involved with local charities.
To learn more about the Muslim Student Association Click Here