MSA: Muslim Students Speak

I had the opportunity to interview Nida Ahmed and Maryam Awwal, two board members of the Muslim Student Association of UC Davis, to talk about how the club has been supporting its members and the entirety of the student community after the recent hate crimes in Davis. The club promises exciting events in the future and has retained their strong connections with the community.

Who is MSA?

The Muslim Student Association at the University of California, Davis is a student group created as an avenue for Muslim students to meet, exchange ideas and debunk misconceptions. The club is open to members of all religions.

What are some resources that MSA offers for students who may be feeling unsafe or confused about some of the recent events that have occurred nationwide and locally in regards to the Muslim community?

During this difficult and confusing time for Muslim students, the MSA is working toward doing all we can to provide resources for physical safety and mental wellbeing. In terms of physical safety, we’ve been closely working with the UCDPD to ensure Safe Rides is able to reach students who are going to and from campus to their apartments. For mental health, we are grateful to have just hired a counselor primarily for the Muslim American student population this summer and we are encouraging students to go to therapy if they need it. We are also working toward having more safe spaces in the form of town halls and healing circles for students to come together and heal as a community.

MSA just hosted a charity 5k a few weekends ago. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

The 5k was something we had been planning for the past several months and it finally came together on January 21st – the day before the mosque vandalism. We organized the 5k in hopes of providing clean water accessibility to 11 different countries abroad (through partnership with PennyAppeal USA) as well as to aid the Flint, MI water crisis. We were able to raise over $27k, which would not have been possible without the generosity of everyone who donated!

How did MSA respond to the hate crimes that have occurred recently (the mosque, the doorstep delivery)?

We worked with administration, campus police, and other groups in order to further ensure the physical safety and mental/spiritual well-being of Muslim students. Additionally, we have continued our regularly scheduled events, and have found a lot of power within our own community.

Who is hosting the No Ban, No Wall event? Can you tell me about that?

The Muslim Student Association, the Office of Advocacy and Student Representation and SPEAK are all co-hosting the No Ban, No Wall event. The main idea of having this protest/demonstration is to come together as different communities who are being affected by the EOs, which close borders to refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. As students, we have a voice in standing up for our rights and the rights of others in the face of injustice.

How do you feel about our campus’s culture towards the Muslim community?

Davis is a fairly accepting community, and we have seen a continued outpouring of support (for example, after the masjid vandalism). Additionally, members within our own community have constantly strived to make the campus more Muslim-friendly, for example by hosting events with ASUCD.

What other exciting events does MSA have planned in the future?

We have Islam Awareness Month coming up during Spring Quarter, which is a great way for MSA members and the general community to build relationships and learn more about each other. We will also have our Fast for a Day, which brings out community members to see what it’s like to fast and understand the spiritual background of fasting.

What message do you have for any students struggling with feelings of unsafety, victimization or fear?

For students, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who are dealing with feelings of unsafety or fear – please know that the MSA is here for you. It’s a difficult, confusing and draining time for a lot of us, but together as a community we will rise above it all. Please join our Facebook page to hear about upcoming events and to be with community. Please know that you are not alone – we’ll help you find the resources that you need and we’re here to be a listening ear if you ever need anything.


All photos can be credited to: Nida Ahmed and Maryam Awwal via MSA at UCD