Wednesday, February 1, 2017

CU MSA's Request for a Religious Life Advisor

The MSA is releasing the following statement and request to the Office of the President. We ask that the Muslim community and our allies (student groups are encouraged as well!) sign the statement in a show of support and agreement. Please share widely!
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 Muslim Ban directly affects students, faculty, and staff at Columbia University, many of whom will be or are currently separated from their families, friends, and peers. Furthermore, many students at this University may be unable to continue their studies and/or work in the United States. Although not the entire Muslim community is legally affected by this ban, anti-Muslim executive actions and the political normalization of hateful Islamophobic rhetoric directly leads to anti-Muslim violence and puts our entire community under enormous risk, stress, and insecurity. 
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 as students of faith. Students who are visibly Muslim, such as women wearing hijab, are increasingly concerned for their safety as they publicly practice and express their faith. 
Columbia University needs to take immediate, tangible action to support the sizable Muslim community on campus. The University currently does not have a full-time, long-term staff member that caters to its Muslim students. It is imperative for our community to have a leader that they can look to for emotional support and religious guidance, and who can advocate for the Muslim student body and promote a strong sense of community. 
To this end, the Executive Board of the Columbia Muslim Students Association, and the undersigned, request the following from the Columbia University Administration: 
1. Create a fully-funded, full-time position for a Muslim Religious Life Advisor in the Office of the University Chaplain. Many peer institutions-New York University, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania etc.- already provide support for such a position; Harvard University has just made the decision to fully fund a full-time Muslim Chaplain in response to President Trump’s executive order. Columbia University needs to follow suit as soon as possible.
2. Ensure that the Executive Board of the Columbia University Muslim Student’s Association and the broader Muslim community have a leading role in the process of selecting and interviewing a suitable candidate for this position, and have final say in the ultimate choice of candidate.
3. Provide institutional support for students directly affected by the executive order, including subsidized summer housing, free legal advice, and additional demands made by other student groups on campus.
We hope that this University will prove to stand alongside its students during these difficult times. 
Signed by,
The Columbia MSA Executive Board