Yusra A Syed Ed.D. Program Dissertation Defense Announcement: “Assessing the Influence of an Institutional Muslim Life Program on the Muslim Student University Experience”

12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Institutional Muslim life programs at universities in the United States are growing in number and their importance is often highlighted in supporting Muslim university students through avenues like providing a safe space, spiritual education, counseling, and fostering community building with the greater campus. While literature exists on their historical development and presence at universities, minimal research has been conducted on the measured impact that these institutional programs have on Muslim student life experiences. This study aims to fill that void and employs a mixed-methods case study design to examine the influence that one public state university institutional Muslim life program has on the Muslim student experience.

Through site observations, a questionnaire, and individual and focus group interviews with students and program administrators, student perceptions of institutional Muslim life and its level of influence were analyzed. With student voices as the main source of data, the findings of this study demonstrate that institutional Muslim life program does in fact influence the Muslim student experience in a variety of ways, including that on a communal, institutional, and personal level. The data showcases that an institutional Muslim life program facilitates for Muslim students to develop greater levels of faith understanding and spirituality and that it also serves as a way to obtain capital. Furthermore, the findings relay that while Muslims in America may be in the midst of a tense and hostile social climate, the primary motivation for most Muslim students to engage with institutional Muslim life programming lies not in countering anti-Muslim sentiment, but in connecting with their faith and spirituality on a personal level. This study provides measured data that Muslim university students do benefit from institutional Muslim life programs and serves as encouragement for educational institutions and administrators to consider supporting and establishing these kinds of institutions within their communities.

To access the Zoom link required to attend this defense, please contact academic.services@gse.rutgers.edu.