Creating More Inclusive Environments at Universities
In light of recent events, we find it necessary to work with students to approach university administrations in efforts to create more inclusive environments on campus. Following are suggestions from The Islamophobia Working Group at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor to help build resources on a university campus:
- “Hire more Arab/Muslim/MENA identified faculty and staff: Given the importance for institutional diversity for students to have faculty in their identity group, we suggest additional hiring at both the faculty and staff levels.”
- “Add a distinct designation for Arab, Muslim, and MENA students and faculty on the undergraduate application and on pool reports when faculty and staff are hired. The U.S. Census has plans to include a MENA category in the 2020 Census. Because of Census classifications, Arab students have been counted as white and not counted as adding to diversity initiatives. Data on religion is not collected. We would suggest tracking Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian populations in data collected about demographics.”
- “Continue and increase support and recognition of Ethnic Studies units.”
- “Increase funding for student programming: There are numerous Arab, Muslim, and MENA student groups who organize educational and cultural events to combat discrimination. ” It is in the best interest of the university to increase funding for these groups as they provide safe havens for many students on campus. Administrators can work with student groups to determine the best structure to allot funding to groups.
- “Create more spaces for Arab, Muslim, and MENA students. ” This can include lounges or multicultural safe spaces that allow students to feel comfortable and welcome.
- “Provide a Muslim Prayer Space: Muslim students pray five times per day. This is a central facet of the faith. Each prayer must be completed within a limited timeframe, based on a lunar calendar. Having access to a prayer or reflection space is essential to creating an inclusive environment.”
- “Designate an advocate for graduate and undergraduate students to provide support in cases of unfair treatment by an advisor and/or abuse due to an Islamophobic mindset. ” Many campuses already have Equal Opportunity, Sexual Harassment, and Discrimination offices on campus. These staff can play a critical role in providing support and advocacy for students that are unfairly treated.