California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Muslim Life Coordinator to Start This Month

    California Lutheran University has hired Anna Torres-Zeb as the Muslim life coordinator starting in April. This is a first for the university.

    Pastor Scott Maxwell-Doherty, said the hiring process itself had been going on for about two years, since Campus Ministry had sought to fill the vacancy in their office. This led to a campus-wide survey process about what the people interviewed thought Campus Ministry could improve on. Maxwell-Doherty said he didnโ€™t just want to fill that empty position. He said he wanted to get a real benefit out of the position.

    โ€œWe could just replace who left [the vacant] office, but thatโ€™s just a one-for-one, and itโ€™s not that it wouldnโ€™t be beneficial, itโ€™s just one-for-one,โ€ Maxwell-Doherty said. โ€œMy direct connection, in terms of funding [for one position], happens to be the vice president for Mission and Identity, that would be Melissa [Maxwell-Doherty], and in terms of budget stuff, she was able to cobble enough money for us to be able to hire a half-time person [as the coordinator of Muslim life].โ€

    Maxwell-Doherty explained that since Torres-Zeb hadย  previously worked as Coordinator for Muslim Life at Elon University in North Carolina, the job was almost like a continuation of her former position.

    โ€œThis is not a new rodeo for her,โ€ Maxwell-Doherty said. โ€œThis is, in her words, she gets to continue some โ€˜unfinished workโ€™ for her in her own soul. That she had a grand experience at Elon, and now this door opened, and she said, โ€˜Oh, man, how cool would this be if I get to do this again?โ€™โ€

    Assistant professor of religion Rose Aslan was also on the committee involved in hiring Torres-Zeb. Aslan was the one who suggested that the position be created at Cal Lutheran.

    โ€œI realized I was organizing a lot of activities having to do with Muslims, and I was doing events with Rabbi Belle, for example, but then I realized that I didnโ€™t have enough time to do all this. [Torres-Zebโ€™s] job was to do this, my job was actually to teach and to do other things,โ€ Aslan said. โ€œSo I realized we really needed someone to be doing that side of things from the universityโ€™s ministry.โ€

    Aslan said that Torres-Zeb would probably work closely with the newly-revived Muslim Student Association as a sort of guiding and supporting hand in the organization, and Aslan also hopes that Torres-Zeb will teach a weekly class.

    โ€œAnother big factor speaks to the mission of Cal Lutheran, of interfaith activities,โ€ Aslan said. โ€œTheyโ€™re probably going to start looking at the calendar to see what holidays correspond and parallel and [have] similar weeks, and hopefully coordinate some kind of event that celebrates several religious holidays [at once].โ€

    Nighat Shah, administrative assistant of International Student Services & Multicultural Programs and another person involved in hiring Torres-Zeb, was appreciative of the fact that Cal Lutheran had hired a Muslim life coordinator.

    โ€œThis [is a] very large step, and I think itโ€™s like building bridges around us, and I could never have imagined that it would happen, but Iโ€™m very happy and very grateful to everyone involved in the decision,โ€ Shah said.

    Shah said the timing of Cal Lutheranโ€™s decision to hire a Muslim life coordinator could not have been better. It is important it was that Torres-Zeb was hired now.

    โ€œI think this is the perfect time for this step,โ€ Shah said. โ€œI donโ€™t think [there] was any better time for this to happen. The whole concept changes from a Lutheran institution [into] a diverse institution that cares about their students.โ€

    First-year chemistry major, president of the Muslim Students Association and Nighat Shahโ€™s daughter Sana Shah said that the hiring of Torres-Zeb is a great step towards diversity.

    โ€œ[The hiring of Torres-Zeb] plays a big role in [the university, since] we have a Jewish chaplain [Belle Michael], we have [Scott and Melissa Maxwell-Doherty], so itโ€™s an amazing opportunity for us all to work together and have different events,โ€ Sana Shah said.

    As for the timing of Torres-Zebโ€™s hiring, Sana Shah said, โ€œbetter late than never.โ€

    โ€œIโ€™m not offended at all that it didnโ€™t happen before, thatโ€™s not my concept at all. What Iโ€™m thinking about is present times, and [the fact] that it has happened,โ€ Sana Shah said.

    Henry Studebaker
    Staff Writer