Five years after Mu Delta Alpha was first introduced at the University of Texas at Dallas, the Muslim-based sorority has arrived at Wichita State.
Saniya Ahmed, a junior studying health science at WSU, started the endeavor to bring Mu Delta Alpha to Wichita.
Ahmed grew up in Wichita. As an young student who went to all of the university’s elementary events, she said she saw WSU as her second home. But when she began college, she had trouble reestablishing that second home feeling.
So, Ahmed did what many college students do. She looked into joining Greek life. But as she went to the informationals and did her research, she said she couldn’t find one that called to her personally.
“I really wanted it, but I just felt like I would have to compromise a part of myself to fit in,” Ahmed said. “A part of Greek life is about finding your home, and you can’t really be at home if you feel like you have to compromise a part of yourself.”
Instead of giving up, she took matters into her own hands.
After doing her own research, Ahmed discovered Mu Delta Alpha. It was exactly what she was looking for.
“I said, ‘I have this idea. I’ve been researching, I found that this organization exists. How do I bring it to campus?’” Ahmed said. “In fall 2017, I kind of started this endeavor knowing that I wanted to create a space for Muslim women to benefit from a lot of the things that Greek life emblemizes, like sisterhood [and] service.
“It was just creating that space and creating that avenue for us to gather strength in ourselves and having our faith as our foundation.”
Ahmed said that foundation of faith is the most important aspect of her day-to-day life.
“That’s what I was really missing with all of these organizations,” Ahmed said. “I felt like at the end of the day, if you ask me who I am, with all my hyphenations of what I identify as, my first identification will always be a Muslim before anything else. For me, that was kind of [what] gave birth to this idea that I could do this.”
The Student Government Association recognized Mu Delta Alpha as a registered student organization in February of 2018. It gained its official chapter status in October of this year.
Mu Delta Alpha is not only the first Muslim sorority at WSU but also the first non-Texas Muslim sorority in the nation.
“We’re a lot of different firsts. It’s super exciting, but it’s also really daunting,” Ahmed said. “Because we know we have eyes on us. We know that people are watching.”
The WSU Muslim Student Association is currently inactive, which makes Mu Delta Alpha the only active Muslim-identifying organization on campus.
Ahmed said that distinction comes with a fair amount of pressure.
“It’s hard sometimes to distinguish, you know, is this what the campus needs or is this what we need?” Ahmed said.
“Mostly right now, it’s figuring out what our responsibility is. We know that people are watching and we know that important conversations need to happen.”
Ahmed said Mu Delta Alpha’s current mission is to focus on educating the community.
“We took that upon ourselves to make sure that we have an educational piece at every event that we host,” Ahmed said. “We are providing that opportunity for other students who might not know a lot about Islam, or might not have ever engaged before with the Muslim — to be able to utilize the resources we offer, but also ask us questions to clarify what they’ve understood.”
Ahmed said that while Mu Delta Alpha is a Muslim-based organization, students do not have to be Muslim to join. The organization is open to members of all different faiths.
Currently, Mu Delta Alpha has seven members. Ahmed said she hopes to see that number grow in the future.
She also wants future Mu Delta Alpha alumni to be able to serve as mentors for younger generations, she said.
“A lot of us right now don’t have the mentors. We don’t have the people that we can look up to that are Muslim women in the fields that we have chosen,” Ahmed said. “One of the questions we always start out with each semester is, ‘Who is the Muslim woman that you look up to in your field right now?’ And usually the answer is ‘I don’t know.’
“It’s time we change that.”
That’s where Mu Delta Alpha alumni could factor in, she said.
“We’re incredibly powerful [and] strong women, so it’s about time we begin that visibility,” Ahmed said. “Because a lot of that, for mentorship in particular, is until you see it, you don’t really believe that you can do it. I hope we, as women right now, 10 years down the line, become the women that then current members say, ‘They did it. They’re there. They’re successful.’”
Ahmed said she hopes to see Muslim women unapologetically reaching for their goals and living out their faith.
“We know that discrimination does exist,” Ahmed said. “But 10 years down the line . . . I hope to see women who are so unapologetic in their faith, in their beliefs, [and] in their ambition. Never should they feel like, ‘Can I make it?’ It should be, ‘Okay, this is what I want, I’m going to get it.’ Period. No questions, no doubts, no fears.”