Sen. Udell Calzadillas Chavez, who introduced Resolution 6S, said there is a widespread culture of fear and ignorance that perpetuates violence against Muslims. The purpose of the resolution is to provoke better understanding of Islam in the UNM community.
“This is a proactive approach to events in the United States and around the world,” he said.
Citing domestic attacks against Islam such as the February killing of three Muslim students at the University of North Carolina and a Molotov cocktail being thrown at the Albuquerque Islamic Center last year, as well as the continuing fight against ISIS in the Middle East, the legislation states that UNM “should stand strong in opposition of Islamophobia and related hate crimes.”
The document defined Islamophobia as “dislike or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.”
Ihsan Wadud-Rodriguez, a senior Psychology major and Muslim student, said prejudice is often driven by inaccurate and uninformed presumptions about Muslims and the religion they practice.
“Islam has been unfairly confounded with cultural practices,” Wadud-Rodriguez said. “Those very cultural practices which are not supported by Americans are also not supported by Islam. There’s no contradiction: I don’t experience any self-discrepancy between my American values and Islamic values.”
Wadud-Rodriguez said judgments shouldn’t be rashly conjured simply by the distinct appearance of a Muslim.
“I’m just hoping to spread understanding and have Muslim students feel more safe on campus and not have to worry if they seem like they’re affiliated with Islam,” she said. “If their name is Muhammad, if they’re wearing a hijab, then they’re going to be targeted.”
Wadud-Rodriguez said the UNC shooting deeply affected her and her fellow Muslims. Seeing that ASUNM immediately acted by writing an anti-Islamophobia resolution gave her assurance of the student governing body’s stance.
She said she didn’t know about the legislation until it was already written.
“I thought it was extremely mindful and just incredible, showing that kind of support for us,” she said.
Rameez Burney, a business graduate student and member of the Muslim Student Association, said he hopes the passage of the resolution will prompt University students to do their research on the Islamic religion and culture so that they realize their initial conclusions may be false.
“I definitely hope it’s a first step for us, to get out there and tell people that we understand what’s going on,” he said. “They can even come talk to us. We want to open people’s eyes to acceptance. There’s no cause for the fear and hysteria, it’s just unnecessary.”
Burney said the fact that UNM prides itself on being a diverse campus only emphasizes the resolution’s impact.
“It’s very necessary,” he said. “It opens that door. There is an impending danger, like what happened in North Carolina. We want people to feel safe about asking questions. To be a Lobo means to be accepted in the entirety of the University.”
David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.