UBCO Muslim Student Association; screenshot from facebook.com/msaubcokanagan

Student associations are integral to campus life and the Muslim Student Association of UBCO (MSA) is no exception. In an interview with the MSA, this association highlighted their goals, events, and how they create a safe, inclusive, and intellectual community experience for both, Muslim and non-Muslim students.

The Phoenix: Could you tell us about the Muslim Student Association (MSA)?

MSA: The Muslim Student Association of UBCO is an active member of the UBCO Students’ Union. We aim to cultivate a strong and proud sense of Muslim identity among the members of the club. However, our club is not focused solely on Muslim students. We work to create a welcoming and intellectual space on campus to allow students from all faiths--and disbelievers too--to broaden their knowledge and understanding of Islam. We also act as a voice for Muslim students at UBCO and campaign for their needs. We follow the teachings of Islam as inspiration to be at the forefront of community service, social justice and education.

TP: What are this association’s goals?

MSA: The association’s main goal is to act as a platform for Muslim students. It also wants to create a link with the students of other faiths.

TP: Why was this association created? Why is it important to have an association?

MSA: Islam is a practice-based religion. It also preaches a sense of community. Popularly, this is called Ummah, a community that is focused on the belief of One God and the Prophethood of Muhammad [PBUH]. As a new institution, UBCO became a home for Muslim students as well. In order to offer the daily prayers together, Muslim students needed a platform to communicate with each other and coordinate accordingly. Also, many Muslim students, after coming to Canada, didn’t know many trivial issues, i.e.- where to buy halal foods? Where to buy Hijab? Not to mention, many of the students needed help with housing and pick-up from the airport. Many students, especially female students who maintained Hijab, faced many negative comments. They needed a platform to share their experience and get eased. All these lead to the creation of MSA-UBCO.

TP: What are the signature events?

MSA: We celebrate the Eid-ul-Adha and Eid-ul-Fitr, the two major religious festivals of the Muslims. During the holy month of Ramadan, we organize one ramadan meeting. Infrequently, we also organize social barbecues. To welcome new members and get to know each other, we organize meet and greets. In order to know more about Islam and other faiths, we regularly organize conviction circle, lecture series etc.

TP: Have you found it difficult to operate due to the pandemic? If so, how have you adjusted to the changes?

MSA: Definitely, it is very difficult to operate in the Pandemic. Our activities require active participation but for days we are not meeting in person. We are trying to organize conviction circles’ discussions in online forums. We have even tried drinking tea and chatting over zoom. It was great to explore the cup collection our group members had. We hope, like all, that this pandemic is going to get over soon. As the vaccination process has started all over the world, we are hopeful to go back to our regular activities soon.

Student associations are responsible for many important aspects on campus such as providing a sense of community to students, assuring a safe and educational space, and creating a strong and proud sense of identity. The Muslim Student Association has and continues to be a very significant part of the UBCO campus.