MSA to ‘Celebrate Identities’ at banquet



The Muslim Students Association at UNI has won multiple awards, including “Program of the Year” and “Student Organization of the Year.”


The UNI and Cedar Valley community are invited to join the Muslim Student Association for “Celebrating Identities: The Banquet.” This free event, held on Thursday, April 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Maucker Union Ballroom B and C, will honor MSA achievements throughout the year, introduce attendees to the organization and its members and include a dinner from Mirch Masala Grill.

“We’ve had a lot of events that were very serious, over Islamaphobia, Islam 101 and the Interfaith Dialogue,” said MSA president Nadir Khan, a senior majoring in health promotion and nonprofit leadership. “This time, the event is very laid-back.”

MSA has been on the UNI campus for 31 years. The organization now has 16 members from three continents, hailing from countries such as Pakistan, Algeria, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Oman, the United States and more.

“MSA is having the best time I’ve witnessed in my four years here,” Khan said. “Each and every person in this group is not only involved in MSA, they are involved outside too […] they are exposed to every other organization, all over the campus, which is the best part of it because I feel like when you are internally strong, after that you can externally tell people who you are. So we are very strong within ourselves and that’s the best part of MSA.”

“We are a diverse group, promoting for diversity,” said MSA member Lamis Laouar, a women’s and gender studies graduate student. “We want to bring more people to know the members of MSA. [This banquet] is not like a presentation or anything. Our members will be engaging with the attendees.”

This year, MSA won Program of the Year for their “A Rabbit, A Pastor, and an Imam: Stronger Together.” They also won Student Organization of the Year from UNI’s Student Leadership Awards.

“We’re gonna tell people why we got this,” Khan said. “We’re going to tell them how we give service to the university, telling them about our religion and how we can contribute with other students to help them with initiatives of diversity and inclusion.”

Cara Burnidge, associate professor of religion and MSA’s faculty advisor, will be speaking at the banquet about the organization’s mission and achievements. Then, members of the MSA will introduce themselves onstage, followed by a speech from Khan about his journey as an international student and first-generation college student. MSA vice president and senior chemistry major Huzaifa Shah will then talk about his own journey with the association.

MSA members will also be leading attendees in activities, such as a Kahoot! game about Islam and tongue-twisters from the different countries MSA represents.

“It’s dinner and games and everything,” Khan said. “Everyone is welcome.”

“Expect something fun during dinner,” Laouar said.