Monday 25th March, 2019
James Heath, OUSA President
Writing an article this week was the last thing on my mind - and what a week it has been.
As we all know it started with tragedy - a deep, gut wrenching, and awful tragedy that flipped our worlds, and the worlds of our Muslim brothers and sisters, upside down and inside out.
But regardless of how it started, most importantly, it ended with unity.
The pure, raw, and beautiful love that has been shown - vigils, gatherings, powhiri, prayer, flowers, bake sales, scarfs, and to hear the Muslim “call to prayer” echo through our campus - make me so proud to be a member of this community.
I only ask, do not let our response to what has happened start and end in a week.
The aroha sparked from tragedy cannot be snuffed out by complacency. Words right now are meaningful but if we do not follow them with action over the coming weeks, months, and years then they are meaningless.
Members of our community, no matter their ethnicity, religion, or walk of life, should always feel like members of our community. Jokes, snide comments, and pretending that “this is not us” - you are blind to the damage you can do and betray the love that our community is showing right now. Let this be a time to remind ourselves to give nothing to racism and everything we can to inclusion, acceptance, and a sense of community.
It is also important at this time to briefly touch on mental health. No matter who you are, this can be tough time and it is okay to be not okay. We are here for everyone in our community - it has been said before, it will be said again, and it could never be said enough.
I want to end by acknowledging the leadership shown by our Muslim brothers and sisters - such as the likes of Hamzeh Obeidat and Naser Tamimi - the President and Vice-President of the Muslim University Student Association. Thank you for letting me turn to you for advice over the last week and to all the brothers and sisters, students and non-students, who have provided us with guidance. You have allowed this momentum to be directed in as right of a place as we can find.
I only hope what we have done, and will continue to do, was and will be what is needed and more.