On Being Jewish or Muslim at Kansas University

August 29, 2002

Source: University Daily Kansan

On August 29, 2002 University Daily Kansan reported on the challenges of non-Christian groups on [the Kansas University] campus. It reported on difficulties such as "Jay Lewis, executive director of the KU Hillel Foundation, explained that [having classes during holy days] was a problem for the Jewish students in early fall... 'The high holidays -- Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur -- come so early in the school year,' Lewis said. 'That's a day that students should spend all day in a synagogue. It's hard to just take days off.' The KU Administration estimates 8 percent, or between 1,500 and 1,800 KU students, are Jewish. Samara Nazir practices Islam, [making] special arrangements to practice [her] religions and encounter people unfamiliar with [her] beliefs. Nazir addressed the issue with the non-Muslim people in her life at the beginning of the school year. 'I try to pray five times a day,' Nazir said. 'I pray in my room, and I discussed that with my roommate, asking if it would be okay.' Nazir said obstacles such as her prayer schedule made her religion more difficult to pursue, but Islam allowed for some flexibility around Western lifestyles. Finding other students of similar religious beliefs could help overcome these challenges... [but] Nazir said it wasn't so bad being a non-Christian in a Christian environment. Being exposed to new groups of both non-Muslims and Muslims had strengthened her."