Friday 10-11-2017 - 13:13
As Islamophobia Awareness Month continues, we launch our Muslim Students Survey to learn more about the experiences of Muslim students across higher and further education.
If you’re a Muslim student or sabb, tell us about your experience in education.
Last week I wrote a blogpost highlighting the various strands of work that NUS will be undertaking to mark this year’s Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM).
As such, it gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of the Muslim Students Survey; the first comprehensive research devoted entirely to capturing the experiences of Muslim students and sabbatical officers in colleges and universities throughout the UK.
The launch of the survey should come as no surprise given the recent political context. Anti-Muslim hate crime is at an all-time high, the Prevent legislation threatens the academic freedom of every student on campus, and the media has made a concerted effort to scrutinise Black and/or Muslim activists.
In the last year, we have also seen extensive measures being introduced by universities and colleges to monitor the activities of Muslim students - from installing cameras in prayer rooms to tracking the emails of students, universities are effectively placing their Muslim students under strict surveillance (partially as a result of the Prevent policy).
It goes without saying that universities and colleges are ill-equipped to deal with anti-Muslim hate crime, and have failed to make necessary provisions to accommodate the needs of Muslim students on campus (be it halal meat, prayer spaces, or timetabling).
During my first year of university, for example, the prayer room signs at King’s College London were defaced in the wake of a vote in favour of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Two years later, a fellow student had her niqab (face-veil) ripped off just steps away from the university entrance. In both instances, the response from university administration was uninspiring, at best.
The survey is therefore important because it will inform a series of recommendations to students’ unions, colleges and universities on how best to support their Muslim students on (and off) campus.
Ultimately, the survey takes a holistic approach to the issues faced by Muslims in the student movement - from everyday interaction in lectures and with academics to their involvement in their respective students’ unions and Islamic societies.
More importantly, it seeks to examine the different ways in which Islamophobia can manifest and how it affects various intersections differently (e.g. black Muslims).
We cannot afford to shy away from the fact that pro-Palestinian student groups, for example, are facing heightened levels of scrutiny - partially due to the fact that their membership is overwhelmingly Muslim.
Nor can we to shy away from the fact that NUS needs to do more to support Muslim students and activists - experiences of former NUS officers and volunteers tells us we must commit to tackling Islamophobia in NUS and the wider student movement.
I, therefore, urge all Muslim students, activists and sabbatical officers to complete the survey. It’s time the National Union of Students better represented you.
NUS UK Women’s Officer