One thing that has always surprised me is the fact that Haverford does not give any days off for Muslim holidays. Although there is some work needed to be done, I believe Haverford is a fairly equitable and diverse space in which I can freely voice my opinion and enjoy my time with my teachers and peers. I do not feel oppressed at all here.
Haverford has dedicated days off from school for many holidays of many religions including Christianity and Judaism. Having no break for such a global and important holiday as Eid at the equitable place Haverford claims to be is something that I could never understand.
For Muslim students—who are probably a larger section of the student body than you think—we are forced to decide between our faith and our school. When workload is high, stress can cause the joyous spirit of the holiday to wane.
Haverford closing school on Eid would also be a step forward in dismantling the Islamophobia present in our community. According to the FBI, ever since the 9/11 terror attacks, hate crime rates against Muslims and other anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States have skyrocketed. It has not calmed fully either: the FBI reports that 2016 had the highest reported number of assaults towards Muslims, even higher than 2001.
The state of New York and many schools in Philadelphia have already given this day off, so why is Haverford not able to? Does the school not recognize the growing Muslim student body? It is hard to imagine any plausible reason for not having the day off.
In a 2015 press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio stated, “We made a pledge to families that we would change our school calendar to reflect the strength and diversity of our city. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim families will no longer have to choose between honoring the most sacred days on their calendar or attending school. This is a common-sense change, and one that recognizes our growing Muslim community and honors its contributions to our City.”
Recognizing Eid with a school holiday would hopefully lead many other schools in the area to adapt the same process, creating equality across the Main Line area as a whole. The month of Ramadan is a time in which Muslim Haverford students may feel isolated; there are not many other Muslim students at Haverford who are abstaining from food and water with them. Giving the day off along with being more equitable to students who are fasting would not only show that Haverford is taking a stance against xenophobia, but would, more importantly, allow Muslim students to feel as if their existence is recognized.