Got religion on campus? Leave it off your resume

June 16, 2014

Recent college grads, take note: Mentioning a campus religion group on your resume — particularly a Muslim club — may lead to significantly fewer job opportunities.

Two new sociology studies find new graduates who included a religious mention on a resume were much less likely to hear back from potential employers.
The studies used fictitious resumes — with bland names that signaled no particular race or ethnicity. These were sent to employers who posted on the CareerBuilder website to fill entry-level job openings in sales, information technology and other fields suitable for first jobs out of college.

The researchers tested seven religious categories including: Roman Catholic, evangelical Christian, atheist, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, and one faith they just made up, “Wallonian,” to see what would happen compared to people who made no faith reference.

Muslims faced the sharpest discrimination with 38 percent fewer emails and 54 percent fewer phone calls to the voice mailboxes set up by the researchers.
In New England, 6,400 applications were sent to 1,600 job postings by employers. But applications mentioning any religious tie were 24 percent less likely to get a phone call, according to the study published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility.

Again, Muslims bore the brunt of discrimination, receiving 32 percent fewer emails and 48 percent fewer phone calls. Catholics were 29 percent less likely to get a call and pagans were 27 percent less likely — slightly better than the “Wallonian” applicants.

A new Muslim student groups tries to rouse the moderates

The Wall Street Journal explores the changing ways in which Muslims university students in the US are seeking to express their religiosity on campus. This past spring, Harvard University decided to provide women-only hours at athletic facilities at the request of a few Muslim women, which subsequently sparked some controversy at the school. The University of Michigan announced recently that it would spend $25,000 to build footbaths for Muslim students for prayer ablutions. At these and other American colleges, features like gender-segregated seating are drawing both Muslim and non-Muslim students to explore further complexities of university life and religion. The Muslim Students Association (MSA) was launched in the 1960’s as a Saudi-funded establishment to support Da’wah on campuses across the country. Critics of MSA groups – both Muslim and non-Muslim – have challenged the organization as associating with Wahhabism, conservatism, and even radicalism. These concerns inspired a group of Washington-area students to establish a new campus initiative last fall. Project Nur, created by young Muslim women and men, grew out of a desire to provide an ambiance of promoting civic liberty, interfaith dialogue, and addressing identity issues. Project Nur now spans at least 7 chapters, and has even launched a first-ever Muslim Film Festival in Boston and Washington, and is a developing initiative hoping to serve as a positive organization for contemporary Muslim young people.

Muslim student group kicks off week of awareness-raising events

The Muslim Student Association is hosting a weeklong event to increase students’ awareness about Islam. The week is in response to a chain e-mail vilifying Islam that Student Government President Nick Phelps forwarded to an SG listserv in January. The week, themed “Unity through Understanding,” is designed to give students the opportunity to ask questions about Islam and debunk stereotypes, said Fatimah Shalash, vice president of MSA. “People are afraid of the unknown or of what is different,” said Shalash, a family and consumer science senior. “Combined with anti-Muslim images and news found in the media, that creates feelings of fear or apprehension towards Muslims.” Shalash said the e-mail was a “step backward from the direction that the university was heading,” but many positive changes have resulted. “With the e-mail came overwhelming support and a new vigor to tackle the cultural divide that has climbed to the top of student leadership,” she said. MSA was established in 1971 and works to give the campus community a better understanding of Islam by lecturing in classrooms, promoting discussions about Islam, participating in volunteer activities and hosting other events, Shalash said. Rebecca Sweeney reports.

For Muslim students, a debate on inclusion

A debate on whether organizations for Muslim students should be inclusive or strict is unfolding on college campuses across the United States, where there are now more than 200 Muslim Students Association (MSA) chapters. Gender issues and relations are among the most fraught topics as Muslim students wrestle with the gap between American college traditions and those of Islam. Each chapter of the MSA is mostly autonomous in its rules, and discrepancies between liberal and conservative Muslim student groups are prompting Muslim students to reflect on the diversity of their representation. From clothing, to mixed-gender dodge-ball games, kissing at public ceremonies, to gender segregated barbecues, the levels of rigidity vary greatly. Amir Mertaban, who was president of his Muslim student group at California State Polytechnic University, Pamona said: There were drunkards in the Prophet Muhammad’s community; there were fornicators and people who committed adultery in his community, and he didn’t reject them… I think MSA’s are beginning to understand this point that every person has ups and downs. x