Columbia University has agreed to hire a full-time ‘Coordinator of Muslim Life’ and open up prayer space for Muslims during academic breaks in response to a petition from the Muslim Student Association.
Student activists were surprisingly resentful about their apparent victory, however, complaining that they had not been informed that efforts to implement their demands were already underway for four years.
Columbia University has agreed to hire a full-time ‘Coordinator of Muslim Life’ and open up prayer space for Muslims during academic breaks.
University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis announced the new initiatives earlier this week in response to demands from the Columbia Muslim Student Association (MSA), noting that both concessions were made possible by an anonymous donation.
The new coordinator will “provide guidance and support to members of Columbia’s Muslim community” and “enhance the understanding” of various religious traditions on campus, Davis said, adding that her office would be “consulting with our student leaders and campus partners” while seeking a qualified candidate for the role.
“There is a shared feeling across our University community that the times we live in require a vigorous reaffirmation of our principles,” she concluded. “Today’s announcement, and the anonymous gift that made it possible, reflects the University’s commitment to that course.”
Both initiatives were addressed in a petition circulated by the MSA last month, which called for Columbia to establish a “fully-funded, full-time position for a Muslim Religious Life Advisor” and also reiterated a long-standing request that a Muslim prayer space on campus be made accessible to students and non-students during academic breaks.
“President Trump’s recent executive order blatantly legalizes racism and Islamophobia and goes against everything that the United States and this University aspires to,” the MSA Executive Board wrote in their petition. “As a result, the Muslim community is in need, now more than ever, of institutional support to help cope with the emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical toll these recent political events have on us.”
Interestingly, though, Muslim students greeted the announcement not with appreciation, but with suspicion, complaining to The Columbia Spectator of a lack of tr…
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