The group Common Texts held a special meeting on April 17 to focus on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on Ohio Wesleyan’s campus and in the media as part of Anti-Hate week.
Sophomore Maria Jafri, president of Tauheed, said it was crucial for students to share their personal Islamophobia experiences to promote action and start a dialogue among OWU students.
“I think they are pressing things to talk about, because just with the way media justifies Islamophobia, and people talk about it, there seems to be a general lack of knowledge of what Islam is really about,” Jafri said. “And this is the time to discuss it, learn about other religions, learn why things are happening in the world and what we can do about it.
“People can’t discriminate on one race (or) one ethnicity. No one is like anybody else, only themselves.”
Chaplain Jon Powers said the discussion encompassed various subtopics within anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, including “concerns and shared stories,” of personal experiences with racial stereotypes, the media’s treatment of religious groups and dietary accommodations on campus.
Anti-Hate Week was created out of concern for the hate crimes and hate speech that OWU students have seen on both the news and OWU’s campus.
Sisters United, the Women’s House, the Women’s Resource Center, Citizens of the World House, College Democrats, the Student Union on Black Awareness, Tauheed, PRIDE, VIVA, Common Texts and the Chaplain’s Office all collaborated to organize a week of events like the Common Texts discussion to raise awareness on campus about issues regarding race, religion, sexual orientation and gender.
Sophomore Nola Johnson, president of Sisters United, said she hopes the discussion and Anti-Hate week can serve as a basis for future awareness.
“As the next year comes around and progresses, my club and I, along with many other clubs and Student Living Units and organizations, want to come together and keep this dialogue about tolerance and consciousness going with the OWU campus,” she said. “We really want to try to get the people that aren’t the most comfortable to talk about the issues and to realize that it doesn’t matter what skin color, faith or sexual orientation, or gender you do or don’t identify with.
“At the end of the day, it’s a ‘human rights’ problem because we’re all human.”
Common Texts is a weekly discussion held between students of various faith backgrounds.