Today Katherine Kersten follows up on last week’s column about the coming of ritual foot-washers at Minneapolis Community Technical College. Where is MCTC looking for guidance as it prepares to provide its Muslims students with “wudu” (ritual bathing) facilities? The answer wasn’t hard to find, and the trail leads directly to the Muslim Student Association. Its goals “on American campuses include the following, according to the website [of the MSA accommodations task force]: permanent Muslim prayer spaces, ritual washing facilities, separate food and housing for Muslim students, separate hours at athletic facilities for Muslim women, paid imams or religious counselors, and campus observance of Muslim holidays.” Kathy notes the progress made toward these objectives by the MSA accommodations task force on campuses elsewhere:
The task force is already hailing “pioneering” successes. At Syracuse University in New York, for example, “Eid al Fitr is now an official university holiday,” says an article featured on the website. “The entire university campus shuts down to mark the end of Ramadan.” At Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich., “halal” food — ritually slaughtered and permissible under Islamic law — is marked by green stickers in the cafeteria and “staff are well-trained in handling practices.”
At Georgetown University, Muslim women can live apart in housing that enables them to “sleep in an Islamic setting,” as the website puts it. According to a student at the time the policy was adopted, the university housing office initially opposed the idea, on grounds that all freshman should have the experience of “living in dorms and dealing with different kinds of people.” That might sound appealing, Muslim students told a reporter in an article featured on the website. But in their view, the reporter wrote, “learning to live with ‘different kinds of people'” actually “causes more harm than good” for Muslims, because it requires them to live in an environment that “distracts them from their desire to become better Muslims, and even draw[s] weaker Muslims away from Islam.”
Kathy’s column is “Ritual washing area at MCTC may be only the beginning.”
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