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Students question lack of support after mosque shooting

by Bridgette Babb
Tue, Apr 16th 2019 10:00 pm

The recent massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand is one that shocked the entire world. Communities far and wide continue to send positive messages and reinforcements to help those affected rebuild. The College at Brockport joined the initiative, standing with the victims in its own way.

The Christchurch shootings happened on Friday, March 15. The  date also marked the start of Brockport students’ spring break. However, Chief Diversity Officer Cephas Archie felt the need to send out a response to the unfortunate event. 

“We are saddened as a community to learn of the horrific events targeting the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand,” Archie wrote in an email to the whole campus. “Hatred and the desire to instill fear have no place in this world and we must stay committed to providing a safe, inclusive environment for everyone at the College. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

The email went on to highlight that although the school would be closed for a week, resources for students and faculty would still be available. There were also outside after-hours resources such as Crisis Textline and the Employee Assistance Program offered to anyone who was affected. 

The Brockport Muslim Student Association (BMSA), who already had a Muslim Appreciation Day event planned after spring break, decided to include a silent march to honor the victims that lost their lives.

President Heidi Macpherson stated in a direct message on Twitter that the school stood behind the club on this. Archie concurred with Macpherson and said the diversity office aimed to add support in every way the club needed.

“We wanted to do something that people of that culture says honors them,” Archie told BMSA. “So this is where our department and the office of the president stepped in. Whatever [BMSA members] want to do, tell us, we got you.”

Secretary of BMSA Rukia Abdi stated in an email how much of a negative impact this calamity has had on not only her life, but the rest of the Muslim community on campus.

“The Christchurch shooting affected the Muslim Community tremendously,” Abdi wrote. “These were people who were at their house of God where they were most vulnerable. Before the video the terrorist posted was deleted, I saw parts of it and wish I didn’t because that traumatized me. When I went to the mosque that Friday, all I could see was his face and the thoughts of what if it happens here? We can’t even have PEACE in the one place where we should.”

The blatant disregard for the lives of religious groups, Muslims in particular, angered her. Abdi wrote that these were innocent lives mattered to someone. She does not belive they deserved the fate they received.

“The youngest was a 3-year-old,” Abdi wrote. “This one really hurt the most.”

Though Abdi did appreciate the diversity office’s support in the silent march, she felt there could have been a lot more follow through that the college as a whole could have done.

“There was never a follow-up,” Abdi wrote. “I think the college could’ve definitely done a better job. We thank Dr. Milo Obourn, a professor in the English and Women & Gender Studies for always reaching out to us and for the constant support.”

President of BMSA Halima Hussein agreed with Abdi on the aspect of support.

“There is more the school can and should have done for us,” she said. “Even though we successfully honored the lives of our brothers and sisters, that burden should not have fallen on us. A little support would have gone a long way.”

The college’s program, Global Ed, where students can go to countries and study, had students studying at the University of Canterbury, located in Christchurch, according to Archie.

“Immediately after sending my email, I got a response from Lindsay Crane, the personnel in charge of the program in New Zealand,” Archie said.

Crane thanked Archie for his message and support. 

“Sadly, we have six students studying at the University of Canterbury (UC) in Christchurch now,” Crane said. “We confirmed their safety this morning but I know they will be impacted by this tragic event because Christchurch is a tight knit community. We will pass along your message to them.” 

Situations such as this can cause people to lose faith in humanity. Archie, however, has been working on creating an interfaith platform for people of all religions to come together and learn about each other. 

“People don’t even realize there was another attack in Greece, NY around the same time,” Archie said. “Two caucasian male students planned to bomb a mosque. Luckily they were smart to post the plans on Facebook so the police could intervene.” 

He stressed the importance of coming together as a whole community and accepting every person’s religion and differences.

“There are many differences in our individual faiths, but there are also a whole lot of commonalities,” he said. “Faith is based off people’s desire to say, ‘there is something greater than us.’ No matter who you pray too, at the core we are trying to figure out, how do we become better people?”

The college will continue to keep those affected in the incident in its prayers.          

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