This coming week marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, which Muslims observe by abstaining from food and water during daylight as part of a fast for thirty days. In past years the low diversity in student body and small number of Muslims at UVM created a difficult and often neglected atmosphere for students observing a physically and mentally difficult month. The month will begin with a Ramadan dinner this Monday seeking to unite Muslim students at UVM and celebrate the upcoming holy month. Two individuals have worked hard to create a group for the Muslim population on campus. The Muslim Student Association (MSA) started by junior Bilal Sultan and senior Sana Choudhary has the interests of all Muslim students in mind. The reason: other universities excuse many students throughout this month and actively seek to accommodate students and create a more comfortable environment in which students do not feel as though they are at a loss due to their personal religion. The Student Government Association agreed to MSA’s mission and proposal and granted them recognition, a strong step in forming a student group at UVM. The organization has already planned several events, some pertaining to religious events and other events such as lectures and film showings. The MSA plays an important role in a state where the Muslim population is very small. The president, Bilal commented, “Often times there are many misconceptions about Islam, Muslims and the religion itself; part of our goal is to create an understanding and accurate representation of the religion.” Muslim students at UVM are already showing excitement. One sophomore said, “This is a big change from last year and it’s a good thing – I won’t feel like the only one like I did last year.” Another very important mission that Bilal briefly mentioned was promoting unity within the small Muslim community. The MSA is very closely affiliated with the ALANA center as well as the South Asian club. Bilal also emphasized this club is not exclusively for Muslims, anyone interested in joining and participating is more than welcome. For more information please visit the SGA website.