In Fort Collins, with a total population of roughly 170 thousand, the closest estimate of how many Muslim people make up our population is around two and a half thousand. Although they are a minority group, the population is still significant.
Lake Hogan, of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Front Range Community College, says, “There has been an influx of very harmful and concerning rhetoric that is very important to push back against.”
Through the MSA, Hogan says they aim to create a group for students of all types who identify themselves within the Muslim community, or simply wish to involve themselves and learn more about their faith and practices: “We won’t turn anybody away,” they say.
Hogan is officially the president and founder of the FRCC Larimer Campus MSA 2023. However, they say they’ve never been one for official titles — Hogan clarified that all of their focus is on creating a sanctuary for any student who may need it.
One of the original issues Hogan says they faced at FRCC is the lack of a safe, private place for Salah. They say this is due to the previous gap in Muslim support on campus. Salah is daily prayer, often three or five times a day, and is done facing Mecca, a city in Saudi Arabia that is considered to be the birthplace of Islam.
On an American college campus, Hogan says they have found it to be intimidating to find a proper, safe location. One specific concern of theirs is, who knows how someone may react to seeing someone pray in public?
Through the work that Hogan and others have been doing, they say they hope to alleviate this anxiety for Muslim FRCC students, as well as other fears that may arise.
CSU has a group with the same name—Muslim Student Association—that has been around for quite some time, and FRCC is encouraged to work for the same long-term support network.
As of now, there is substantial evidence that this is the largest and most successful attempt so far at creating a space for Muslim students at the FRCC Larimer campus, with connections to the Islamic Center of Fort Collins.
FRCC Larimer campus’ MSA has yet to have an official meeting because, as Hogan explained, all efforts are being set toward gaining new members. Once membership rises and settles, Hogan say that their present plan is to have meetings every two weeks in which members will be able to talk, to discuss Quran readings, and to simply create a communal space for any Muslim student or anyone who wishes to get more involved with the community — maybe discuss some good Halal restaurants, too.
Hogan discussed how a potential future event that may be brought to light through this group would be something for Ramadan, which itself will take place from March to April in 2023.
Ramadan is an annual occasion that is definitionally the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It’s recognized as a month of fasting from dawn until sunset, with a lot of focus upon prayer and community as well. During this time, Hogan says they areis considering an event that may include short films and trivia as a celebration of Islam for all students.
Hogan explained how one misconception that people may have regarding Muslim people is that being Muslim is restricted only to Arabic people; this is not true. It’s not a population of people that exists in a vacuum; it’s a growing and ever-changing community that accommodates people in the world as it is.
That concept is true of all cultures and groups of people. Hogan says that no matter what one may read or view, cultures are infinitely more complex than what any article or video could reasonably display, and individuals themselves will often never perfectly align with every aspect of the cultures they identify with. With that comes immense availability for learning and understanding and perpetual growth, opportunity for compassion and new ideas, connections and friendship.
“College can be an inherently disconnected experience,” Hogan proclaimed. “It’s just you, and trying to find a community at college is incredibly important because you don’t realize how lonely it can be until you’re the only one.” Because of this, Hogan says they are trying to highlight the value of community through the involvement of all cultures on campus.