Muslim Student Association planning to return after two years


Courtesy of Millicent Green

[From left to right] Former Muslim Student Association members Adham Attia, Ashley Sasser, Fatima Chaudhry, Mina Goldman and Xander Menor pose at MIST in 2019.

Shalin Bhatia

Midtown’s Muslim Student Association is expected to return under the sponsorship of social studies teacher Millicent Green following two years of uncertainty.

During the past two school years, the Muslim Student Association was inactive due to a lack of members. The four primary members of the association graduated during the COVID virtual school setting, with one of the members graduating early.

“By the time we were virtual, everyone had graduated,” Green said. “They [the four primary members] had suggested someone step into the president role, but that person’s parents weren’t really comfortable with them coming back to school at the time because things were very uncertain; so, eventually, it just died out that way.”

The association’s stoppage during both the in-person and the preceding virtual school year disappointed Green, as she had inherited the association and was unsure how to reach out and build it again. Although she still has those same feelings, she does plan to put up flyers and make announcements this year to gauge student interest.

Despite the two-year hiatus, Green, who is not Muslim, decided to bring the association back for the current school year. Due to its cultural significance, a tight-knit Midtown community was ultimately built.

“[Members would] teach people or teach those who were interested that would come [to the meetings] about the organization and the tournament,” Green said. “As a small club, the [Muslim Interscholastic Tournament] offered the opportunity to meet people from all over Georgia who might have things in common with.”

The Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST) was a large part of the student association a few years back. The tournament was centered around an abstract theme and allowed students to apply creative skills to represent the theme. The tournament was one of several of the association’s activities.

“On a weekly basis, the kids used to do mehndi [body art] to raise money,” Green said. “[We would] have get-togethers where we would watch movies — movies from different places, and [there were] a few American movies. We would also have meetings with snacks and just talk about different issues relating to Islam, and prepare for the tournament.”

Math teacher Vicki Vinson, the association’s former sponsor, said MIST is very lively, with both Muslim and non-Muslim students coming together to explore Islamic culture. Vinson, who is not Muslim, was sponsor from 2017 to 2019.

“It’s amazing that the association is returning,” Vinson said. “We have Jewish Club, and we have Young Life, which is a Christian club, and it’s just fitting to have a Muslim club. It’s especially fitting for non-Muslims to learn more about the culture and the religion.”

Junior Sayeda Khpulwak, who is Muslim, is not yet a member of the association but is interested in joining because of what she’s heard from former members, and wants to get involved in fundraising.

A big factor why I want to join is for the organizational [fundraising],” Khpulwak said. “I had done fundraisers with others before, but it wasn’t very effective because I remember we didn’t have a big audience. So, I thought if we did [fundraising] in a school environment, we’d have more of an audience and people who would be interested; so, that’s one big reason why I want to join.”

Aside from what the association does, Khpulwak believes that dialogue regarding Islam, in general, is prominent at Midtown in light of recent hate crimes, such as the Albuquerque incident where four Muslim men were murdered. Vinson also mentioned the negative stereotypes of Muslims during her time as sponsor due to former President Donald Trump and his comments about the mother of a dead American Muslim soldier.

As for the future, Green’s goal with the association is to build a close, loving community once more, which Vinson strongly supports since she believes Midtown is very accepting of all people.

“At one point, when I first became the sponsor, everyone was really tight,” Green said. “I would like to see a group like that again because they were really supportive of one another and really active members of the school community. I don’t want to see it ever go away again. So, I want to see if we can build another community that will be long-lasting.”