Columbia University: Support the Muslim Community on Campus
The Muslim Students Association, SIPA Muslim Commons, the Law School MSA, and other campus partners have been working with the Office of the University Chaplain (OUC) to inform administration on the ways Muslim students feel marginalized on campus and shed light on the needs of this community. Given the current political climate, it is especially important to acknowledge and serve the needs of Muslim students, staff, and other members of the Columbia community. While efforts with SIPA and Office of University Life (OUL) leadership have been spirited and encouraging, the OUC continues to lag behind its other University counterparts.

A current pressing concern is the lack of adequate space on campus for weekly Friday prayers during the summer/winter breaks for students and community members who are on campus during that period. According to the OUC, we are not allowed to hold prayers because as per University building rules: no student organizations can host programs outside of the academic calendar. This includes winter and summer breaks.

As we mentioned to them, we are not asking for this space as a student organization, but as Muslim community members who feel that the Chaplain’s office and the University should allow us to utilize a space for our Friday prayers, a space that will be open and unused during that time. This past winter, we did utilize that space for Friday congregational prayers. However, the OUC is now holding firm, contradicting that past action, and have denied our request to use this space again this summer.

It is essential that OUC takes the steps necessary to ensure that Muslim members of the Columbia community are able to continue with weekly congregational prayers. This will exemplify through action that Columbia University values these members and their presence on campus. The holy month of Ramadan will also take place between June 6th through July 5th and it is vital that Muslim students present on campus during that period are provided for.

Next, there is a need for multiple, accessible prayer spaces across campus for Muslim students. The community has been confined to prayer in stairwells and library backrooms. We are asking for prayer spaces to be created at different ends of campus such as Lerner and Knox Hall, areas which make it quite difficult to rush to Earl Hall to pray and still be back in time for class.

To conclude, we are also disappointed, albeit not surprised, with the OUC’s lack of communication in the process of recruiting a Muslim Life Advisor. There has not been inclusion in this process and community leaders have been left in the dark even after inquiries were made to the OUC to find out the status of the process.

We call on the University to support its marginalized students by recognizing the Muslim community and its needs. And we call on members of other religious communities to stand together with us in order to achieve a supportive and inclusive environment for Muslims on campus, understanding that when one community’s rights are upheld, we are all better off.

Our Actionable Requests:
-Summer Jumuah prayer space
-Multiple campus wide designated prayer spaces (Knox Hall, Lerner)
-Inclusion in the process of recruiting a Muslim Life Advisor

Sign the Petition:

We the undersigned, as members of the Columbia University Muslim student community, or as supporters of the Muslim student community, stand in support with those calling on the University to provide these services. We call on the University to support its marginalized students by recognizing the Muslim community and its needs. The University’s commitment to the Muslim community is one that needs to go beyond words, especially in a time when politicians are threatening to ban them from this country, and needs to be one that makes Muslim students on campus feel like they belong.

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