Muslim students at Loyola University in Chicago say the Catholic institution’s celebration of Christmas highlights an unfortunate indifference to holidays like Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
A recent column in the Loyola Phoenix by writer Sajedah Al-khzaleh, “Religious Holidays Aren’t Represented Equally on Campus,” bemoans her school’s focus on Catholic traditions while those of other faiths are downplayed, adding that the private Jesuit university founded in 1870 should do more to make international students feel comfortable.
“Although Loyola fosters a space for non-Christian religions to practice their faith — such as in the Damen Student Center’s second floor of Ministry Offices for Muslim, Hindu and Jewish students — there is a lack of public festivity compared to Christmas, such as decorations and activities of other religions’ holidays the entire student body could be part of,” the author wrote.
The piece, first picked up Wednesday by the Blaze, went on to interview Sajid Ahmed, a leader with the Student Muslim Association.
“Eid [at Loyola] is a bit dampened just because you have to go about your normal routine along with Eid,” Mr. Ahmed said. “At home it’d be a big family thing, dress up and go to the mosque. We’d spend the day together and celebrate … compared to that, college Eid has been less.”
Bryan Goodwin, associate director of the student complex, defended the school’s track record of honoring its Ignatian heritage while also respecting its student body as a whole.
“We feel that we do a good job at the student center of allowing other faiths to [join the holiday season],” Mr. Goodwin said. “We pride ourselves on wanting to make sure we’re aware. We always lend ourselves to the conversation.”
The Blaze noted that 60 percent of the school’s 16,673 students self-identify as Catholic, while 800 adhere to the Islamic faith.