Students question Catholic school's emphasis on Christmas

Whereas 60 percent of the 2016 freshman class identifies as Roman Catholic, with the other 40% split among all other religious affiliations, the student paper asserts that just 5% of all students are Muslim.

Some students are complaining that Loyola University Chicago puts a greater emphasis on Christmas than on other religious holidays, such as Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

Students at a major Catholic university are upset at the school’s emphasis on Christmas, saying they wish other religious holidays would receive equal attention on campus.

At Loyola University Chicago, Muslim students told The Loyola Phoenix that they wish Muslim holidays would receive the same attention as Christian holidays, despite Muslims accounting for less than five percent of the student population.

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In fact, Catholics comprise 60 percent of the 2016 freshman class, though the school does not specify the number of students who are Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, or other Christian denominations, merely noting that 40 percent have a religious affiliation other than Catholic.

According to the Phoenix, there are approximately 800 Muslim students at the university, which accounts for less than five percent of the university’s 16,673 students.

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Sajid Ahmed, prayer coordinator for the Muslim Student Association (MSA), told the Phoenix that Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan, is “a bit dampened” at Loyola.

“At home it’d be a big family thing, dress up and go to the mosque. We’d spend the day together and celebrate…compared to that, college Eid has been less,” Ahmed said.

Noting that “the atmosphere [in Muslim based countries] is a lot different than [in the United States]” because Muslim countries celebrate Eid the way Americans celebrate Christmas, Ahmed expressed longing for the university to make Eid festivities more prominent “so that [Muslim students] can feel connected with their heritage and with their religion.”

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However, Bryan Goodwin, associate director of the student complex, noted that Loyola already takes steps to make its festivities more inclusive, such as displaying banners that say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” and expressed willingness to recognize any religious holiday upon request.

“We feel that we do a good job at the student center of allowing other faiths to [join the holiday season],” Goodwin told the Phoenix. “We pride ourselves on wanting to make sure we’re aware. We always lend ourselves the conversation.”

Campus Reform reached out to the university additional information on the topic, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KylePerisic