Professor Bazian effectively cannot speak at Saint Mary’s
By Benjamin Noel
This article serves as a follow-up from a previous article regarding the Muslim Student Association and guest speaker, Hatem Bazian.
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) sought approval from the school administration to vet their guest speaker, Hatem Bazian, who was set to talk on Islamophobia. This permission was denied. Haia Haidari, the MSA President, was told that bringing the speaker [Dr. Bazian], would ignite a debate on campus on the Israel-Palestine conflict. While the conflict was not the topic of Dr. Bazian’s planned talk, certain faculty were averse to giving him a platform.
Shutting down this impactful speaker takes power away from the MSA and the relevant discussion on Islamophobia. On a majority-Catholic campus, little representation exists for other religions, including Islam. So, when a prominent figure in the Muslim community is not allowed to speak on campus, Muslim students are robbed of that bit of representation and voice. Haidari voiced concerns about the school’s conversation in that it is directed to appease a certain group, and “not the wellbeing of the Muslim community at all.”
Despite the decision from the campus, the club received support from many faculty members and students. One source claims that one particular professor set the stone rolling to bar Dr. Hatem from speaking.
While it is very plausible that giving a powerful, controversial speaker like Dr. Hatem the floor may result in a debate, the question is, “so what if it does?” Is it a problem to have a debate on a college campus? Haidari questions why “a university has turned away from such an important conversation,” observing, “the responses from faculty and staff show that this is a conversation that the school needs to have. The students need to be informed about what's happening in Palestine.”
When asked what her hopes are for the future of the club and the change she hopes to see on campus, Haidari admits that she and fellow students do not hold the power. The MSA is a new club and is already dealing with such a burdensome issue. As a club, they realize they cannot surmount it on their own. “I think if we want to see actual change, those at the top need to be educated on the issues [our community faces]. If the administration doesn't recognize the issues, if they're blind to what the Muslim community wants, or doesn't hear their voice, then [their actions are] not about educating the students really.”
Though the MSA took a hit early in the semester, Haidari has high hopes for the future of the club. The MSA is focused on the health of their community on campus, because “it’s not easy to be a Muslim on a Catholic campus.” Members meet to share experiences, socialize, and eat good food. They also gather on Fridays for Jummah prayers.
“We are working to open people's eyes to the fact that there are Muslims here, and that we’re an important part of Saint Mary's.”
Melanie Moyer '22,