MSA, College of Social Work host diversity and inclusivity week

Samantha Robinson

The UK College of Social Work organized a Social Justice Week in conjunction with the Muslim Student Association, which is hosting Islamic Awareness Week April 10-14.

The daily events of both Social Justice Week and Islamic Awareness Week aim to spread diversity and inclusivity.

This is Social Justice Week’s first year, but MSA has hosted Islamic Awareness Week for several years. The College of Social Work was awarded the Inclusive Excellence Award from the university, which will fund the week’s events.

“I think the whole week will be exciting and a great opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to learn about issues related to diversity and social inclusion,” College of Social Work assistant professor Dr. Natalie Pope said. She is part of the Social Justice Week planning committee.

“We hope that students understand that we all have a part to play in ensuring our society values all our citizens,” College of Social Work Director of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Kalea Benner said. She is also on the planning committee.

Social Justice Week is about promoting not only social justice, but social change and cultural competence. Islamic Awareness Week has similar goals.

Both groups are sponsoring an event to start the week: on Monday, people on campus are encouraged to write “Unlearn fear and hate” in chalk around campus.

Dual special education sophomore Hoda Shalash is a member of MSA who helped plan the week. Shalash said she is most looking forward to the fast-a-thon on April 12 where students, faculty and staff can fast like Muslims do during Ramadan, from sunrise to sunset. The MSA invited members from the Christian Student Fellowship, Baptist Campus Ministries, Black Student Union and the Latino Student Union to participate in the fast-a-thon.

“I hope that many misconceptions about Islam that people have will be cleared up by the end of the week,” Shalash said. “Many people don’t get the opportunity to interact with a Muslim in their lives, so we hope lots of people will be able to.”

Other events include allowing others to try on a hijab and handing out cupcakes and sweet tea to pass along the message that “Islam is sweet.”