NEWARK, Ohio, May 16, 2017 – Recent political events have Muslims across the nation feeling as though they need to educate people about who they really are. Students on the shared campus of The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) are no different. In response to this, students formed the Muslim Student Organization to educate the campus and community members about their faith and heritage.
"We want to be a bright light so that people can be educated and understand the Muslim faith," said Fatoumata Keita, Ohio State Newark student. "We hope to create a domino effect by teaching students so that they can go home and teach their parents, siblings and kids of their own."
Keita feels that organizations like this one are especially important today to educate everyone, not just students. "Following the presidential election, there were negative connotations surrounding the Muslim faith and certain nationalities associated with it."
The Muslim Student Organization is open to anyone and was created so that Muslim students can have a place to talk and connect with other students. The group recently hosted a Muslim social to bring students and campus leaders together to talk about the importance of student organizations. Students gathered to eat authentic food and visit the Meditation Room in Warner Center 209. The Meditation Room was a result of the Muslim Student Organization and students saying they needed a place to reflect, think or pray quietly without being disturbed.
Ohio State Newark Associate Dean Melissa Jungers, COTC Vice President for Academic Affairs Lauri White and Director of Student Life Holly Mason were in attendance as campus leaders. They answered questions prepared by the students about the importance of student organizations.
The campus leaders were in agreement that organizations such as the Muslim Student Organization are important for students to find a sense of connection, comradery and belonging. "So many students commute here. They come and go to class and then go home. Students get a sense of connection when belonging to organizations like this," said Mason.
"College is a time for transformation," said White. "I was the first person to go to college in my family, and when I got to find out who Lauri was, I found out that I really liked her. Education gives you so many opportunities. When opportunity knocks, at least look through the door."
Not only do students get social benefits, they also get academic benefits. "Multiple studies have shown that students who are more engaged in student life and organizations are also more academically successful," said Mason.
Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field, or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor's degree program. The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that's challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State's more than 200 majors.