Campus leaders and students address letters and Islamaphobia
NAOMI DORNFELD | firstname.lastname@example.org
In response to the announcement of a so-called “Punish a Muslim” day, campus administrators reminded students of Parkside’s commitment to inclusion and safety.
Anonymous letters sent out to addresses all across England in early March proposed to set April 3rd 2018 as “Punish a Muslim Day.” As awareness of these notes circulated on social media and the announcement was reported through various news media outlets, concerns spread throughout the country, eventually spreading across the Atlantic. The announcements sounded alarms to communities throughout the states.
The ill-intentioned flyers sparked worries in many U.S. cities and campus communities, including UW-Parkside. The issue was addressed in an email from the Office of the Dean of Students, informing students and staff that the University Police would be monitoring the day’s events and instructed recipients to report any inappropriate actions or threats to the Police immediately. The email included a reminder to the campus community of the leadership’s pledge to uphold a productive and inclusive space for academic development. The email stated that “UW-Parkside is committed to maintaining a learning environment that celebrates diverse knowledge and perspectives through the academic engagement of a diverse community. We value all of our students, faculty and staff and the diversity of their cultures, thoughts, beliefs, and lifestyles.” Although no other campus-wide issuance was sent out regarding the issue, conversations continued among students throughout the week on the topic of discrimination, specifically Islamophobia.
In one discussion on ways to confront the divisive and destructive nature of religious and racial discrimination, UW-Parkside student Mohamed Mursal commented, “We all know it’s a problem. Why don’t we talk about it more? One thing that could help the situation is if non-Muslims would begin to speak up about the issue to get people’s attention. It would also be good to have open classes where people have the opportunity to actually learn about other religions to find out what the core of the beliefs are.” Mursal suggests that more community conversation and educational opportunities would help dispel false notions about the Muslim religion and to build a stronger, diverse community.
As disappointing as it is that “Punish a Muslim Day,” is somehow a real topic of conversation, despite how utterly asinine the idea is on basically every level, it exposes otherwise under discussed issues of discrimination and can inspire groups and individuals to oppose it more directly. Every member of the campus community has the power to reject expressions of hate as intolerable or to allow them to permeate our culture. Let’s be mindful of the space we create here and brave non-violent confrontation of less-than inclusive words or actions in our classrooms, dorms, cafeterias and off-campus conversations. #YouAreWelcomeHere