Muslim Student Association secures funding to bring rapper, poet, activist to UVM


SAWYER LOFTUS/The Vermont Cynic

Sophomore Lena Ginawi, the president of the Muslim Student Association, helped secure funding to bring activist Mona Haydar to campus.

Lilly Page, Staff Writer

The Muslim Student Association successfully secured more than $3,000 to fund an event with a Muslim American poet and activist, at the Oct. 22 SGA meeting.

The activist, Mona Haydar, will be at Fleming Museum Nov. 4 to discuss her work and how she ties art and activism together.

In the SGA meeting, sophomore Lena Ginawi, the president of the Muslim Student Association, spoke about the bill to the senate, who voted to pass the bill, giving the association the $3,600 they needed.

Ginawi said she knew about Haydar for a while before the bill was passed and that her “Hijabi” music video, a song about how she proudly wears her hijab, was inspiring to her both as a Muslim and a poet.

“Just knowing that there was another hijab, someone who looks like me, who is able to talk about these things and allow people to highlight these issues and start conversations regarding the hijab and what it means to her,” she said.

Ginawi said she fell in love with Haydar’s work because of how she uses art and activism to complement each other.

“I do write poetry in the sense where I like to talk about issues that aren’t being heard in the classroom and to reclaim my narrative and allow myself to tell a story that many people aren’t hearing in the media,” Ginawi said.

Haydar will already be speaking at Middlebury College Nov. 2, and her team reached out to Ginawi, saying that Haydar is doing a mini tour and they would like her to come to UVM.

“I’m like, ‘This is perfect,’” Ginawi said. “It’s very imperative that she comes now, seeing issues of white supremacy with the stickers that have been posted all over UVM.
“The fact that she will be discussing that issue and how she uses music as a tool of resistance and how she uses music to shut white supremacy down and fight against it.”

In order to get the funding for the event, Ginawi filed a request through the diversity enhancement fund, since the association did not have enough money for the speaker.

Senior SGA Senator Olivia Machanic, chair of the Finance Committee, sponsored the bill.
Machanic said she was inspired by Haydar and the bill especially since SGA had just passed a resolution about Ramadan, a Muslim holiday.

“I’ve watched a lot of videos that [Hayder] created,” Machanic said. “The bill was more impactful because it was actually connected to something we were already doing.”

Haydar speaking at UVM is an event that Ginawi said will make the UVM community more aware of the Muslim Student Association, which has about 40 people on their email list.

“We are going to try to have these discussions and increase people’s awareness of Islam and combat misconceptions of Islam and what it means to be a Muslim in America,” she said. “We also want to provide a safe space for Muslims to talk about their experiences on a predominantly white campus.”

Ginawi said people should come to engage in conversations about Haydar’s work and how she uses art as a tool of resistance so that more people can be inspired and use art to fight back against social injustices.