Friday, November 24th, 2017

Student Government Hopes to Make Amends with MSA

Posted on October 23, 2017 in News
By USM Free Press

USM Free Press

Cara DeRose

Student Body President Pdg Muhamiriza and Student Senate Chair Muna Adan apologized to members of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and multicultural students last Monday for student government’s failure to “lead people the way it’s supposed to lead them,” according to Muhamiriza. The apology was made partially as a result of islamophobia in the Student Government Association (SGA) last year, as well as in the hopes of improving relations between the MSA and SGA.

The first apology was given during a 1:15 p.m. meeting in the Woodbury Campus Center conference room, which MSA Adviser Faisa Abdirahman, MSA Secretary Ifrah Hassan and MSA President Deqa Dahir also attended.

Dahir discussed several concerns Muslim and multicultural students have about student government at the meeting. Two of these concerns were funding for the MSA and the absence of a prayer room on the Gorham campus.

“I feel like the MSA never gets funding when they need it for events,” she said, “and I don’t know why that is. If it’s something the senate has been doing or the BSO [Board of Student Organizations] has been doing.”

Dahir added that she had heard from past presidents and board members of the MSA that funding has been a persistent problem.

Adan assured Dahir applying for funding for events would not be a problem this year.

“I don’t know what happened last year,” Adan said. “However, this year, I can make sure that on the student senate side, there’s no issue in terms of getting funding. We’ll put it on the agenda. We’ll discuss it with you all.”

The necessity of a prayer room, outfitted with a place to perform Wuḍū (ritual washing), on the Gorham was stressed by Dahir. Adan and Muhamiriza said the administration has argued that students who live in the dorms can pray in their rooms, making a prayer room unnecessary.

They suggested Dahir and MSA members speak to university officials, such as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Nancy Griffin, about the possibility of a Gorham prayer room being added to the master plan.

Trust, or a lack of it, was another issue Dahir touched on.

“Muslim students and multicultural students feel like they can’t trust student government as a whole,” she said. “There were so many times they needed the student government, and the student government has let them down after countless incidents.”

When apologies have been issued, either by university officials or student government members, there has often been a “but,” according to Dahir.

“There should be another apology,” she said.

“I personally apologize,” Muhamiriza said, “as student body president now and as the student body vice president last year. I want us to have more transparency now and see how we can make amends.”

If something is brought up that offends students, Muhamiriza assured Dahir the student government would take their concern seriously.

“What happened last semester should not have happened,” Adan said.

While Dahir said she appreciated student government reaching out to the MSA and setting aside time for a meeting, she felt a more public apology was needed. She recommended the student government send a formal e-mail to all students.

A second apology was made to students in the multicultural center after the meeting.