It was only a matter of time for universities to host Muslim enclaves. Here is the undated "Muslim Life Residential Program" at Harnwell College House, a high-rise dormitory on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
Note that while "students of any background" in theory may apply, a 500-word essay is required, the decision-makers "reserve the right to reach out to applicants clarifying room requests and additional concerns," and the program "offers a space where Muslim students on campus can comfortably explore their own faith identity." Note also that "Students of any gender can be roommates," something few parents of Muslim students would welcome. So, this program adds up to a typical mess.
The Muslim Life Residential Program provides residents with an experiential living and learning space focused on the appreciation of Islamic culture, food, history, and practice, providing students of any background a chance to learn about the local effect of Islam and the daily experiences of Muslims. Islam is deeply integrated in the culture of Philadelphia particularly, so this program offers students across Penn a way to appreciate how Islam influences daily life in the home of one of the largest Muslim communities in North America.
The program will offer regular opportunities for lectures and academic programs about Islamic perspectives on student life, including explorations of Islam's rich history in Philadelphia, spiritual perspectives on mental health, and the ways Islamic/faith-based ethics manifest in fields like healthcare and business. Social activities will be a big part of the program as well, exploring the Philadelphia halal restaurant scene, touring historic sites in the city, and performing community service with the West Philadelphia Muslims Serve project.
Additionally, this program floor offers a space where Muslim students on campus can comfortably explore their own faith identity. Opportunities and space for communal prayer will be provided.
Floor: 9, Student-Designed Community
If you are applying to a Program Community, determine if you would like to request a roommate, but keep in mind that your roommate must also be accepted to the Program Community.
Students of any gender can be roommates if they all elect to be in Gender Inclusive Housing.
For more detailed information on the Program Community application and process please visit https://www.collegehouses.upenn.edu/life/upperclass(link is external). Please note that all applicants are required to respond to the following questions in an essay using a maximum of 500 words:
- Why are you interested in joining this Program Community?
- What would your involvement bring to this program's overall experience?
- How have you participated in your current House community?
Applications will be reviewed by Harnwell Senior Staff and RAGAs/student coordinators affiliated with The Muslim Life Residential Program. In order for an application to be seriously considered, it is highly encouraged that the essay reflects the uniqueness of the Program. If needed, Harnwell Senior Staff and RAGAs/student coordinators reserve the right to reach out to applicants clarifying room requests and additional concerns.
(RAGAs stands for "residential advisors and graduate associates.")
Georgetown University also sponsors a Muslim Interest Living Community (MILC) but it seems less an enclave than its Penn counterpart, given the mention of non-Muslims and of interfaith dialogue. It
is designed to create a strong support group for Muslims and non-Muslims who want to be steadfast in prayer and their commitment to campus building and cooperation. MILC selects students that have shown an inclination for activism and community improvement.
MILC is located in Alumni Square and is open to upperclass students.
Learning Outcomes and/or Goals
The goal of MILC is to foster a sense of community and create a strongly supportive living environment for Muslims and non-Muslims. We aim to build a cohesive family to build understanding between one another, through both intrafaith and interfaith dialogue, and be of service to the greater campus community.
- MILC & Cookies Open House
- Eid Celebration
- Community Service Opportunities
- Advisor: Imam Yahya Hendi
The questions asked of new and returning applicants are provided.
Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.