Baruch MSA protests for creation of interfaith space on campus

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

Baruch College’s Muslim Student Association organized a mass protest for an immediate solution to concerns about prayer space in the Clivner=Field Plaza on April 20.

“If you are a Baruch student, this concerns you,” Michelle Zreik, a second-year student, said at the protest.

The protest centered around the students’ frustration with the current space designated for prayer.

Protesters held signs and called for a dedicated religious space for Muslim students.

The protest remained peaceful.

Nigini Murdova, a Muslim student at Baruch, explained the importance of having a prayer space.

“We have to pray five obligatory prayers throughout the day,” Murdova said. “We can’t just skip it and then go home, so we need a bigger space.”

MSA is a student-run organization on campus and has been a vocal advocate for a larger prayer space.

The organization worked closely with the administration to find a solution, but no concrete action has been taken so far.

Muslim students at Baruch face several challenges when it comes to practicing their faith on campus.

The lack of a dedicated space for prayer and religious activities means that they often must pray in public areas, such as the second-floor area in the main building and stairwells, which can be disruptive and uncomfortable.

Baruch Undergraduate Student Government President Laiba Hussain was one of the first figures to deliver a speech of solidarity with the Baruch Muslim community at the protest.

In a statement to The Ticker, Hussain spoke on the effect of the protest and the importance of speaking out on the ongoing issue.

“The Muslim Student Association’s mass protest was not only peaceful but showed a display of impassioned individuals all across Baruch,” Hussain said. “I was honored to have been asked to speak before them and felt it more imperative than ever to show my support as not only a Muslim woman but as the president for our student government.”

In recent months, calls for religious space have increased.

USG launched a form for a referendum proposal, which was approved by President S. David Wu and Dean of Student Affairs Art King.

King was present at the protest but did not speak or interact with any of the attending students.

University Student Senate Delegate Kayla Aaron attended.

Aaron spoke about how important and personal her experience with faith has been.

“I feel that it is important to speak up when there is an issue that affects my community and my friends,” Aaron said in a written statement shared with The Ticker. “As a Jewish person, prayer is very important to me and a significant part of every day. I spoke at the protest because my friends who were organizing asked me to and I quoted from Leviticus 19:16.”

Aaron said the verse includes the commandment, “You should not stand on the blood of your friend.”

“Dean King has attempted to assist us with what we’ve been trying to amplify,” Zreik said. “However, it has not been enough.”

Zreik reiterated the power Baruch students have in the ongoing battle for interfaith space.

“Do not underestimate the power of a single student,” Zreik said. “We are a student body for a reason. We are a community for a reason. This is an urgent matter because this is what a part of the student body desires and you should be taking this seriously.”

Karena Abdelrahman, an organizer of the protest and e-board member of Baruch’s MSA, said that while protesting was an important first step, the fight for space is far from over.

“Protesting takes a while to see results, the goal of protesting is not only to raise awareness among the Baruch student body, but to in conscience Baruch administration enough to take their students seriously,” Abdelrahman said. “Our next steps are to continue this slow but profound process inshAllah.”