May 3, the University Y Student Center will welcome Aneelah Afzali, a keynote speaker who will address the anti-Muslim hatred in the South Puget Sound area to help curb Islamophobia. Afzali is an executive director of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound’s America Muslim Empowerment Network, who works tirelessly to help Muslim-Americans.
There will be three sessions throughout May 3, held 12:30–1:50 p.m., 2:15–3:30 p.m. and 7–9 p.m. These sessions were divided across the whole day to ensure as many people as possible can attend at their convenience.
Afzali has been vocal in her aim to eradicate injustice against Muslims, dismiss the misconceptions regarding the Muslim faith and develop future leaders that can carry on the foundations set by the Muslim Association.
Ginger L. MacDonald, professor at UW Tacoma in the School of Education and director of the doctoral program in educational leadership, shed light on how this event was made into a reality.
“Every year the doctor program does a speaker series around the equity issues that are being seen at large,” MacDonald said. “This year we chose to reach out to a speaker that can educate students on the anti-Muslim hatred that has started to gain momentum.”
The first and third sessions will focus on the experiences that Muslim-Americans are currently going through and how can they counter the Islamophobia they might be facing. The second session will be more UWT centric, where students, alumni and people in the community can provide their insight and experiences on the issue.
The event, funded by the doctoral program in educational leadership, plans to raise consciousness and initiate a community conversation amongst people to ensure the best possible response to the anti-Muslim hatred at hand.
“We are trying to address the culture at large right now, not specifically restricted to UWT, where Muslims are being discriminated against,” MacDonald said. “We are also aiming for the faculty and staff to understand their students better, and hope there is a better understanding of Muslims in our university and community.”
Several UWT departments have come together in order to ensure that this event is a success. Along with the doctoral program in educational leadership, the School of Education, the Office of the Chancellor, and the Center for Equity and Inclusion have collaborated to make this event possible.
“We hope students, faculty and staff and come engage in authentic conversations around this important topic,” MacDonald said. “I believe that people who understand each other will be in a better position to get along, and that is what we are aiming for here.”