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OP-ED: Do the Right Thing. Recognize Eid.

CORRECTION 7/16/21: The text of this article has been altered to reflect the fact that the decision to neglect Eid is made by CUNY, not Queens College. This issue is wide-reaching, affecting students in QC and elsewhere.

For an institution that prides itself on diversity and inclusiveness, the City University of New York has failed to recognize the Muslim holiday, Eid. Observed after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims partake in a 3-day celebration, during which they spend time with family and participate in Eid activities with friends and extended relatives. Since 2016, NYC public schools officially gave all students and faculty one day off for this Muslim holiday. Now, in 2021, CUNY has failed to make any progress in giving observing students a day off without compromising their academic career. Prior to the Spring 2021 semester, Muslim Student Associations across CUNY collectively composed a formal request asking for a day off for Eid, knowing the holiday would fall just before finals week. However, the semester progressed with no advancement toward the recognition of the religious holiday.

With numerous Muslim organizations across campus, it’s no secret that Muslims account for a large population of Queens College. While CUNY rightfully gives off for Christian and Jewish holidays, it has yet to acknowledge a Muslim holiday. Its disregard of the religious holiday affects both Muslim students and Muslim faculty. This past semester, a demand for a day off on Eid gained tremendous support. A petition titled “Demand CUNY to Cancel Classes for Eid” received nearly 15,000 signatures, only emphasizing a call for student inclusiveness. In response, Queens College merely cited the New York State Education Law which mandates the accommodation of any students observing a religious holiday. However, many Muslim students felt excluded from this law, as several professors refused to provide any accommodations. Students reported a failure of professors to cooperate with Muslims and provide adjustments for tests and assignments. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, complained they could not communicate with their professor due to the professor’s inability to respond to emails. This lack of cooperation led to the student taking their final on Eid, having to miss their morning Eid prayer, and felt rushed to finish so they can properly observe the holiday. 

The email sent by QC only deflects their responsibility on religious and cultural inclusiveness. 

Although Eid is celebrated across all 3 days, Muslims university-wide are simply requesting one day off. After a month of fasting from dawn to dusk, all while continuing their education during the semester, Muslims are demanding one day as a mental break from this exhaustion and to celebrate their religious holiday properly. While Muslims observe two different types of Eid, one celebrated after Ramadan (Eid Al-Fitr), and the other celebrated exactly 2 months after (Eid Al-Adha), we are merely requesting the bare minimum: one day off after observing the holy month of Ramadan.

Editor’s Note: The author of this article, Maria Mahmood, is the secretary for the Queens College Muslim Students Association.

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