Religions in Aalto - building a more inclusive campus
April's EDI discussion session's theme was Religions at Aalto. Read here what the facilitators from AaMu (Aalto Muslims Association) thought about the discussions!
Authors: Saara Abdi ja Nuura Mohamoud (AaMu)
Religions are often considered to be a taboo subject and most of the time they aren’t a topic that is talked about on campus. We often view religious diversity as irrelevant at best, and a hindrance or blockage at worst. Some muslim students in Aalto believe that there is a reluctance to engage with religions on campus – perhaps out of a fear that engagement with religion may contradict institutional principles such as neutrality and impartiality.
While it is necessary to take these concerns into account, ignoring religious diversity is not the answer. It can lead to exclusion, and it should also be understood that only when organizations fully include diverse religious minorities as well as religious majorities, can we as a community fully thrive.
The Oasis of Radical Wellbeing hosts monthly equality, diversity and inclusion sessions for Aalto University personnel under the Wellbeing Desk activities for Aalto personnel. The session in April, “Religions at Aalto”, on 28.4. was organized in collaboration with Aalto Muslim Association – Aalto's first association by Muslims for Muslims – to discuss the positive aspects of religious diversity and introduced the religious association in Aalto. The session was facilitated by Nuura Mohamoud, this year’s President, and Saara Abdi, communications representative of the Aalto Muslim Association, with support from Aalto Chaplains and AYY, who co-created this event with the Oasis team and made plans to support religious diversity on campus.
The event evoked several conversations about how a religious ‘togetherness’ can be cultivated in Aalto University and ideated to increase religious diversity on campus. While we are yet to uncover a toolkit that specifically covers the frameworks, questions, and methods needed to cultivate the inclusion of religious diversity on campus, our event demonstrated that we are able to take small steps toward this goal.
During this event we used the problem-solution method to discuss issues faced by many religious students and staff members on the campus, e.g. the feeling of needing to hide their religion due to visible prejudice as well as bias and discrimination. The personnel that joined the session worked together with our facilitators Nuura and Saara who helped keep the session on track and ensure everyone’s equal participation in the discussions. During the first part of the session, the participants were asked to write their initial ideas down on a post-it note. These ideas were next sorted into categories that would help figure out the next steps to be taken. The event was wrapped up with a large group discussion and some individual reflections solutions that resonated the most with the participants.
By the end of our EDI-session we found out that there are plenty of opportunities to promote religious diversity and understanding, without having to come up with all the ideas alone. It is when we come together to solve these issues that we come up with solutions that serve us all.
What is AaMu (Aalto Muslims Association)?
The purpose of AaMu is to unite Muslims studying at Aalto University, improve study experience, reduce prejudice, and organize events and activities for all Aalto University students, with an emphasis on substance-free environment and increased general education. The members contribute to creating safe spaces where unity, representation, and inclusion are cultivated and fostered. The association aims to be an active member of society and increase young people's interest in studying at Aalto university.