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The Muslim Student Association Returns to Emmanuel

The Muslim Student Association Executive Board. (Left to Right) Tusneem Janoudi (Treasurer), Amira Abdelaziz (Secretary), Mishaal Khan (President), Gandolina Melhem (Vice President), Merve Oncu (Public Relations). Picture by: Ave Johnhope

With the support of over 50 Emmanuel students, Maan Alawa ’17 formed the Muslim Student Association (MSA)  in 2014.

“I always wanted to make an impact on campus, and what better way than to represent my religion through a club?” Alawa said in a former Hub article.

Although many students showed support for the MSA, the group also faced challenges.

“I was pretty excited and motivated at that point. There was infinite potential and I had a great network of speakers and other clubs I could work with,” Alawa said in an email. “However, my fellow executive board members took quite limited interest in the club. Eventually, my drive dwindled down and the club was deemed inactive.”

Years passed and the MSA seemed to be a thing of the past, until Alawa met Mishaal Khan ’19. Khan decided to revive the club.

“I saw that a lot of schools and institutions had Muslim Student Associations, and they had active populations of Muslims, and they went beyond that,” said Khan.  “They brought culture, religion, and they brought different communities together. I was really interested in that, and I wanted to recreate that here on campus.”

MSA Vice President Gandolina Melhem ’20 praised Khan’s drive to restart the club.

“Mishaal reached out to me, she really was the person driving the ignition to restart the club,”  Melhem said. “Giving recent administration, recent redirect in the media, there’s a lot more empathize on Muslims in America, so I think it’s more appropriate than ever to kinda boost our visibility and raise awareness on what it means to be a Muslim.”

While it was Khan’s idea to bring back the club, the MSA also had help from Executive Board Member and Advisor, Dr. Jon Paul Sydnor.

By making the Muslim population more known on campus, the MSA hopes to present students a different perspective of Muslim people than what they see in Media.

“You see that most people see the headscarf as a connotation to being a Muslim,” MSA Secretary Amira Abdelaziz ’19 said.  “But it’s not really that, because there is a lot of variety within our culture.”

The MSA also strives to form bonds between Muslim students.

“One of the reasons that I joined the MSA was because I’ve been here for four years, I’m a senior now, and I feel like in my time here I’ve never felt a close connection to the campus,” MSA Treasurer Tusneem Janoudi ’18 said. “I felt like it probably was because I didn’t feel represented here. I’m really happy we were able to bring this group back.”

Janoudi’s feelings towards campus are similar to those of  MSA general member, Asha Ibrahim ’20. Ibrahim is a commuter student on campus and could not find people who she related to until she joined the MSA.

“Last year when I did come here, there was no Muslim Student Association,” Ibrahim said. “So, it was hard finding someone to talk to.”

Although the MSA has only just begun, its arrival has already spread awareness of Muslim people and created bonds among the students on campus. The MSA is not just about Islam, it is also about the Islamic people.

“The most important takeaway  is that they [Muslims] are unique. They have a unique contribution to make in American and to religious culture,” Sydnor said. “Just because of the political situation in America, it’s very important for people to see that Muslims are nice, kind people.”

Although the MSA did not take off on its first attempt, Alawa believes that Khan has the potential to make the club successful.

“I feel absolutely comfortable with Mishaal reviving the club because I know that she can lead a team to successfully run the MSA,” Alawa said.

Ave Johnhope ’20 is a Staff Writer for the Hub. She can be contacted at

Posted by on February 9, 2018. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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