Recommendations for University Administrators, Faculty, and Staff on How to Support Muslim Students’ Social Well-Being and Academic Success
by Moussa Magassa
This study critically explores Muslim students’ experiences on campus and in the community and identifies the opportunities, barriers, and constraints in students’ academic and social relations with peers, university personnel and communities at large. The study provides practical recommendations grounded in evidence for university administrators, faculty, staff and other stakeholders in the areas of service delivery, policy, programs, and educational curriculum development and instruction. The study utilizes a constructivist grounded theory methodology informed by semi-structured interviews of 32 Muslim students in undergraduate and graduate programs as data collection methods. Ambient Islamophobia was uncovered as the central phenomenon. I use a group of theoretical categories, subdivided into properties and dimensions, to illustrate my theory. These theoretical categories are further regrouped into five themes, which illustrate: (1) the ambient and endemic nature of Islamophobia on campus and in the community; (2) the causal conditions of ambient Islamophobia and the processes by which Muslim students become aware and contextualize the complex and multilayered Eurocentric and Orientalist ideologies, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that entrench Islamophobia; (3) the impacts/ consequences of ambient Islamophobia that affect Muslim students cognitively, affectively and behaviorally; (4) the coping and resistance strategies Muslim students develop to counter ambient Islamophobia and achieve social well-being, academic success; and (5) the longing for belonging, while confronting expectations held about Canada and studying at the university. Understanding the processes and foundations of ambient Islamophobia can be used by stakeholders to develop more inclusive policies, programs and classrooms to support the social and academic success of Muslim students on campus.
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