MSA handles vandalism with more security
This week, the University is expected to install a security camera outside of the Muslim Students Association Suite in the Usdan Student Center in response to a recent incident of vandalism, during which a thief cut out and took a portion of a sign outside the suite. The sign bore the words "Enter here in peace and security" in Arabic.
In response to the vandalism, the University has chosen to install the camera in the hallway outside of the MSA suite. In an interview with the Justice, Imam Talal Eid, the Muslim chaplain, said that when he presented the idea to the administration he received a very positive response. "I communicated with the Dean of Students [Jamele Adams], who communicated with the Chief of Police [Ed Callahan], and they agreed that this was a good solution."
When asked about when the camera would be installed, Eid said that he hoped it would go up within the week. "It is a very high priority," he said. He also praised the University's supportive response, saying he is "very proud of the administration."
He mentioned that both University President Frederick Lawrence and Adams have been very attentive to the Muslim community, and expressed his gratitude for this. Muslim students "must be taken care of and feel comfortable at the University," he said. "I want every student to be free to come and pray, meditate or study in a peaceful atmosphere."
According to MSA Co-President Alina Cheema '15, it was Eid who first noticed that the words on the sign were missing. In an interview with the Justice, she said that the perpetrator used tools to remove the glass covering the sign and cut the words out with a sharp blade.
"Once we realized that none of the MSA members or graduate students knew what had happened, we asked Eid to speak with Jamele Adams and claim it as vandalism," said Cheema. "This was very hurtful to our community ... and we couldn't understand why someone would want to do this."
The sign was a gift to the MSA from a former graduate student, according to Cheema. In an interview with the Justice, she said that the student, who had a background in calligraphy, had created the sign for the MSA during his time here at Brandeis.
When describing the event, the imam told the Justice that the perpetrator "need[s] to be educated about the nature of life" and the necessity to understand that with the Muslim community, one cannot judge the entire community "by the acts of a bad Muslim who is abusing the religion."
The vandalism has left some students outraged and uncomfortable. Student Union Vice President Charlotte Franco '15 said in an interview with the Justice that she was "very disappointed that this behavior happened on the Brandeis campus."
She also told the Justice that she found it "very disheartening" that the University's focus on social justice is "not [being] carried out in every community."
Franco also expressed discomfort with the response from the student community. "You would think that, on this campus, there would be a rally in solidarity with this group. It's disappointing that this event has flown under the radar for a lot of people."
The MSA Suite has also been vandalized in the past. On March 5, 2010, the suite was ransacked, with the perpetrators "unplugging electronics, bending silverware as they attempted to use it to open a sealed door and stealing the Imam Eid's Quran containing two years of notes and sermons," according to a March 16, 2010 Justice article.
"This suite was targeted twice so far, in a period of two years," said Eid. "I don't think we need to wait for a third time."
Following on the heels of this event, this week is Islam Awareness Week, a week-long event put on by the MSA to "promote education about Islam and Muslim students at the University," according to Cheema.