Students to hold open discussion on terror attacks in Paris

The Muslim Student Association and French Club will come together to hold a vigil and discussion on the College Green on Friday Nov. 20. The event intends to pay respects to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday Nov. 13 and explore any reactions and stereotypes that could arise.

The event was originally created by freshman Samuel Rubacka, who realized on Sunday Nov. 15 that nothing had been planned to honor the lives lost in the attacks. Rubacka independently created the Facebook event “Solidarity With Paris” and invited everyone he knew on campus.

Junior Amal Thabateh saw the Facebook event—which had originally been a vigil and moment of silence—and contacted Rubacka about adding a discussion component to the event.

The vigil—which Rubacka and Thabateh said they hope will be “concise and focused”—will allow students to reflect on the terrorist attack that struck Paris and pay their respects to those who died. In contrast, the following discussion will focus on the political climate surrounding the events.

According to Rubacka, the vigil will be held at 5 p.m. to reflect the time in the United States when the attacks began exactly a week prior.

While it began as two individuals, Thabateh brought in the Muslim Student Association to get involved. Senior French Club president Sarah Buckowski reached out to include the French Club as well.

According to Thabateh, Islamophobia increases after Muslim extremist terrorist attacks, making Muslims fear for their own safety.

“For me personally, when something like that happens, I am overwhelmed with anxiety because the first thing that comes to mind is the retaliation,” she said. “Immediately, I had a pit in my stomach and it was so important to me that there was a dialogue—that there should be some sort of discussion.”

For this reason, the discussion is planned to disprove stereotypes and to provide students with accurate information from which they can form their own opinions.

“You can’t control people’s opinions and conceptions of certain things, but you have to make sure that you provide them with the information … if they are relying solely on things like the media or social media, that’s where these stereotypes are originated,” Thabateh said. “I just hope that we can combat negative stereotypes of Muslims and that students are willing to listen and engage in dialogue, and from there, they can do what they want with it.”

“We just want to send a message that, as a campus, we can assemble and recognize the gravity of the situation and also assess the other terrorist attacks that happened,” Buckowski added.

A separate panel event organized by the Study Abroad and International Programs Office will also host a discussion prior to the vigil and the moment of silence, featuring student and faculty panelists and speakers.

The Office of the President is endorsing and advertising for both of these events.

“I think it’s great that [President Denise Battles is] coming in at such a revolutionary point in our education,” Thabateh added.

The planners stressed that while the event will focus on the terrorist attacks that struck Paris, it will not exclusively be about the attack on this city.

“It’s always a ripple effect; it’s never just that isolated,” Buckowski said. “It plays into dialogues in the United States. Everything is connected.”

“We are incredibly fortunate to go to such an accepting campus and go to a school where a lot of people want to contribute in these kinds of dialogues and discussions,” Thabateh added.