Arab Student Association to connect UMN Arab students

The newly formed ASA aims to forge a sense of community for Arab students.

Arab+Student+Union+Board+Members+Nadia+Aruri%2C+Ava+Kian%2C+Farha+Ismail+and+Farah+Ahmed+Bahgat+pose+for+a+portrait+at+44+North+Apartments+on+Monday%2C+Jan.+25.

Emily Pofahl

Arab Student Union Board Members Nadia Aruri, Ava Kian, Farha Ismail and Farah Ahmed Bahgat pose for a portrait at 44 North Apartments on Monday, Jan. 25.

Srilekha Garishakurti, Campus Activities Reporter

The Arab Student Association (ASA) at the University of Minnesota is hosting its first-ever event virtually this week.

The cultural group registered as an official organization in the fall in order to create a collective Arab community on campus, encompassing all religions, nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, said Nadia Aruri, the president and co-founder of ASA.

Despite having known many Arab students on campus, the leaders of ASA said they lacked an official group to foster community and host cultural events and activities.

“Having alumni in my family, I knew that community was a big thing that was missing at the University,” said Farah Ahmed-Bahgat, vice president and co-founder of ASA. “So we took it upon ourselves to spark a sense of community for those who resonate with the culture as well as those who want to learn more about it.”

Susan Abed, a third-year student at the University, said she has felt a lack of representation and sense of community.

“When I first heard about ASA, I was very excited because growing up, I wasn’t really around Arabs. To be at a school where an actual [Arab] Association was forming in front of my eyes really made me feel very excited,” Abed said.

She said she hopes the group will do a good job representing and sharing Arab cultures to University students.

Although the pandemic is not an ideal time to start a student group, the board members took it upon themselves to create an inclusive space for Arab students, Ahmed-Bahgat said.

The board members of ASA said they are hopeful for the future as they are in the beginning stages of planning events and initiatives for Arab students.

“I really would love to see this flourish into, not only a University of Minnesota group, but as well as something that kind of brings those in Minnesota together,” Ahmed-Bahgat said.

With their first event coming up this week, ASA hopes to host many more events including virtual galas, game nights, study sessions, cultural nights, bake sales and more, Aruri said.