Although both are just recently chartered, both Muslim American Student Association and Hillel of Northeastern Oklahoma are related to organizations that have previously existed on campus.
Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Hillel of Northeastern Oklahoma were marked as inactive in November last semester. That means SA believed the organizations were no longer meeting, so their charter was effectively cancelled.
However, that does not mean that the organizations were completely gone from campus. Muslim Student Association (MSA), still exists, but according to Bisher Akel, the president of the new Muslim American Student Organization, it has basically only one purpose: “to look after the mosque in terms of care and scheduling.”
He saw “very little interest in any Muslim-related events or outreach” in MSA. That’s why about eight students sought to create a new organization. Muslim American Student Association is meant to help Muslims connect with each other and with non-Muslims.
Because the name Muslim Student Association was already taken, the organization had to be named something else. Akel says that the group chose to put “American” in their name because it “is a title that most Muslims can identify with.” He also says, “So many of us were born in America and have traditional American values. ‘Muslim American’ is a title that we can connect with and the title in and of itself serves as a form of outreach to show others that there isn’t really much difference between us.”
The group currently does not have any set meetings or events. Its initial planning meetings have taken place in the Student Union, and the mosque on E. 4th Place is also a possible meeting place for the future. In regard to events, Akel says ideas range from “interfaith tours and dinners, to interactive seminars and debates and even cultural awareness days.”
Hillel of Northeastern Oklahoma is a direct continuation of the organization that previously had a charter with SA. The organization is funded by a local synagogue, so it does not anticipate needing any SA funding.
Not needing funds from SA and a leadership transition made it so that the organization’s leadership did not know it needed to communicate with SA and led to the subsequent classification as inactive.
Despite not needing funding, Lilly Kopita, the group’s president, says that she wanted the group chartered in order to expand membership. Specifically, she believes that being chartered will help incoming freshmen know of the organization’s existence. Also, she says that having a charter makes it so that “joint events with other religious organizations are more easily obtainable.” Also, she says having a charter “opens up more avenues for interfaith activity on campus.”
The group meets in Norman Village behind the pool area, in an apartment marked with a sign. They meet on Tuesdays and Fridays at 6:00 p.m. for free bagels and free dinner, respectively.