The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

Original Art by Emily Dow
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April 10, 2024

A Wake-Up Call

“Not even waterrrrr?!!!”, “You don’t eat anything till 8!?”, or “You can eat here *whispering* nobody’s looking (offering food)” are only a few of the many common questions or comments that Muslims around the world hear every year during the month of Ramadan. It is even more common for practicing Muslims to hear such questions from friends, acquaintances, or just strangers in the West. That’s because of either the unfamiliarity, the lack of understanding, or even just the ignorance of many in Western society towards a group of people that is more commonly introduced to them as a threat by mainstream media. 

However, in a diverse city like New York, and in a modern technological era where information spreads faster than ever, such ignorance of Muslim religion and lifestyle is especially unacceptable. Awareness of Muslim beliefs and practices in New York should be higher because according to Muslims for American Progress, NYC is home to over 22% of the total Muslim population residing in the United States, a number that increases every year. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding of Islamic practices persists. 

Muslim students at HSMSE are increasingly determined to do something to decrease the cultural and religious ignorance that many Muslims face everyday. Teachers at MSE need to be more aware of the work pressure students face while fasting, which could even extend to leniency with deadlines and participation in physical activity. Though teachers are generally sympathetic, the faculty should be more aware of the month of Ramadan or that the students need help with their workload at this time. Once a teacher admitted to Sanjida Sultana ‘24, a student in MSA, that the teacher suspects some of the staff don’t even know when Ramadan occurs. “It was very surprising to me that teachers don’t realize that people around our age could need extra help with school work while not eating anything from sunrise to sunset everyday for a month. It’s hard to continue normal activities.” 

The poster after being hung on the wall on April 7, 2022:

For those who might question whether there is really a need for greater awareness of Muslim issues at MSE, we offer this anecdote: In April of 2022, the Muslim Student Association hung up various posters portraying different facts about Ramadan in hopes to spread knowledge and awareness to others. The signs included ways MSE can better support its Muslim students and the importance of being mindful of this Islamic month.  One particular poster, displayed largely on the empty wall between rooms B5 and B6, posed the question, “Is fasting the only thing Muslims do in Ramadan?” and suggested ways in which a person could become a better Muslim during this blessed month. The poster held no negative comments or any offensive speech towards anyone. Shockingly, however, the very next day the poster went missing which was alarming to some Muslim students who had invested in the creation of this poster. There were no satisfactory answers from students or faculty as to who removed the poster and why. Mr. Zara started an investigation but it was unfortunately unsuccessful.

Instagram story by students following the taking down of the Ramadan awareness poster:

The poster being removed is just one example of why Muslim students feel less visible and respected on campus. HSMSE is a specialized high school, renowned for being one of the most diverse schools in the city. Actions such as taking down a poster which promotes only positive awareness defies our school’s values. This act sends a strong message of intolerance towards a specific group of people. It’s understandable to not agree completely with others on some matter but such blatant display of disrespect is outrageous.

We need to step up our game, MSE! Here at our school, we are proud to say that we prioritize the expression of individuality whether it is celebrating each other’s cultures, religion, or other differences. Such celebrations continue all year long through activities like decorating  the hallways, participating in spirit week, or putting a gigantic headshot of Scheiman on his door. Hallway decoration brings some lighthearted energy to our individual MSE experience. There is absolutely no reason why signs that celebrate Muslim culture shouldn’t be as safely and prominently on display in the halls of Baskerville. This removal is a wakeup call that discrimination against any groups regardless of race, religion, gender, or other differences shouldn’t be tolerated. Everyone, whether students or faculty, needs to be educated in such matters and we all must respect and acknowledge these differences without causing any mayhem in the school. 

 

Source Cited

  • Petri, Alexandra E. “Muslims Form Community Patrol. Some Neighbors Say No, Thanks.” The New York Times, 3 Feb. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/02/03/nyregion/muslim-community-patrol-brooklyn.html#:~:text=New%20York%20City%20is%20home. Accessed 3 Feb. 2023. 
  • MUSLIMS for AMERICAN PROGRESS an Impact Report of Muslim Contributions to New York City. 2018.
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