Muslim students find ‘a family’ in MSO, one of the fastest growing groups

Students gathered in St. Ignatius Chapel last week to honor the Muslim victims of the Chapel Hill shooting.




In a few years’ time, the Muslim Student Organization (MSO) has grown into one of the most active groups on the McNichols campus.

Sophomore Zoya Shaikh, a pre-dental student, understands why.

Shaikh, the current vice president, said MSO is everything to her.

“As cliché as this might sound, MSO isn’t just an organization I’m a member of,” she said. “It’s more of a family to me.”

Shaikh, who is Indian and from Chicago, said she’s never felt like an outcast at UDM let it alone in the MSO.

“The majority of the time I feel even more accepted because I am Indian and different,” she said. 

The MSO is one of several ethnic student organizations on campus.

Though it is specifically for students who are Muslim, non-Muslims are also welcome.

Saleem Salie, a senior, is the president.

His sister Maaheirah Salie is one of the newest members. She said she joined not only because she’s Muslim but also because her brother and many of her new friends are in the organization. 

“When I came here, I didn’t know anyone at all, so this has made my transition to college a lot easier,” she said.

Senior Salwa Choudhury is a longtime member of MSO.

When Choudhury first came to the university in 2012, MSO wasn’t very active on campus, she said.

“I joined MSO literally my first week of freshman year,” she said. “The president at the time had been rebuilding the group to a give us a presence on campus.”

The organization has come a long way. Its 50-plus members make it one of the largest organizations on campus.

Choudhury said MSO has helped define her college experience.

Visitors to an MSO event will discover a close-knit group, and can sense the unity and how members view each other as brothers and sisters.

“Movie nights, ski trips or the countless nights studying in the student union together made us what we are,” Choudhury said. “These are friendships that will go beyond years at college.”

MSO is not only a student organization but also a religious one, of course.

Many non-Muslim students may be unaware that there is a mosque on campus. It is in the basement of Reno Hall, where anyone is welcome to come and pray.

“We just sit in a circle in our mosque after our Friday prayer and have weekly religious discussions in Arabic,” Choudhury said.

She said she has learned so much about herself through her religion and MSO; it’s something she looks forward to every week.

“These discussions were a reminder to me how blessed I am to be part of this humble yet amazing community,” she said.