December wraps up the first part of the year at both campuses. It is a busy time with people preparing for and taking their final exams for the quarter and semester. Through that busyness we still held office hours on the campuses and the halaqas were still held.
In November we were reeling from the aftermath of the terrible attacks in Paris and in December we faced a tragedy much closer to home in San Bernardino. This one really rattled the students and we did our best to make sure we were there to offer support and someone to talk to. At UCLA we were blessed to be able to host a session on dealing with tragedies and their aftermath with Dr. Sawssan Ahmed and Dr. Omar Mahmoud. They are a husband and wife team who both happen to be UCLA alumni and also professional psychologists. It was great to have their perspective and support. UCLA also held a rally early in the month, which was pushed by the student affairs office, against Islamophobia and racism in general which was well attended.
As far as community relations go, Shaykh Jamaal attended the montly chaplains meeting at UCLA where all the other chaplains affirmed their support for the Muslim students on campus and dedicated themselves to working against Islamophobia in their own capacities. Shaykh Jamaal also led a tour to a local masjid in the USC area which was attended by a class at a Jewish seminary. The students came and toured the masjid and had the chance to ask questions about Islam. It was a great experience and we are grateful to Professor Firestone at the Hebrew Union College for reaching out.
There were also two larger community gatherings that the chaplains were able to attend as part of their understanding and support to student life at the campuses. One was with the Department of Homeland Security on the tactics and propaganda that is being used by groups like ISIS to recruit young people. This was a good chance to see firsthand the kinds of things that people are exposed to without having to search through them ourselves. The other was a community interfaith gathering with the Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris. This meeting was to call the interfaith community together to confront hate and bigotry of all forms. Some representatives from MSA West were also present and Shaykh Jamaal had the opportunity to spend time with them and advise them as to how to think about the meeting. The students did a great job and were able to successfully ask the CA Department of Justice to work with them to implement policies and education that would be helpful in improving campus climate for students.
We’re looking forward to 2016 and your continued support.