Middle Eastern Student Center to Hold Launch Party on October 21, 2013

UCR Prof. Reza Aslan to serve as keynote speaker; Student-organizer panel also scheduled


The Middle Eastern Student Center will hold a “Launch Party” on Monday, Oct. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. in HUB 302S.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — After more than three years of planning, the Middle Eastern Student Center at the University of California, Riverside, will hold its official “Launch Party” on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 from 6 to 8 p.m. in HUB 302 South.

The celebration will feature food, music, and student organization tabling, and a Q & A discussion with a panel of student organizers whose efforts made the center a reality.

Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan will make the keynote address at the Launch Party for the UCR Middle Eastern Student Center on Oct. 21, 2013.

UCR Associate Professor of Creative Writing Reza Aslan, author of the No. 1 New York Times bestselling book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” will make the keynote presentation.

“Everyone, students, staff and faculty, is invited to this launch party,” said center director Marcela Ramirez. “Audience members will come to realize why the Middle Eastern Student Center is so important for our student population and how much work it took to get us here.”

The Middle Eastern Student Center (MESC) is the first of its kind in the UC system. Conceived by students, the center will be a place of education, community, inclusion, expression and celebration of all Middle Eastern cultures.

“This is the culmination of three years work, finally coming to fruition,” said Shadi Matar, a senior political science major from Hemet who has been involved in the organization of the center from the beginning. “It is good to see an idea proposed by students becoming a reality, especially because so many people thought it would not be possible to bring so many students from different backgrounds together under one organization.”

The MESC was conceived when a group of students of Middle Eastern heritage, but with varied political and religious views, came together to envision a non-denominational center where people could gather regardless of their ethnicity or beliefs. The group has held a variety of fundraising and social events over the past two years, including the “Laugh in Peace” comedy show that featured Christian, Jewish and Muslim comedians sharing the stage.

Matar said that other schools have reached out to the MESC organizers to learn how they were able to overcome political, religious and philosophical differences to make the center a reality. “Cal Poly Pomona was very interested in how we were able to develop the center,” he said. “We hope to have a meeting with them about how they might be able to implement their own process.”

Ramirez said that the first few weeks of fall quarter have been very busy.

“We are currently outreaching to all campus clubs and organizations with ties to the Middle East and South Asia,” she said. “The students are excited to finally have a space on campus and be included in the work of the Ethnic and Gender Program Offices. The Middle Eastern Student Collaborative is the driving force behind the establishment of the center and their advocacy is the reason we are here today.”

Matar said that he hopes the MESC plans to host several events during their first year to help get the word out. Events include a film series, educational workshops, and a Middle Eastern faculty, staff and student mixer.

“A successful year for the MESC will include a growth in our membership, an increase in diversity, and a willingness of everyone involved to share new ideas,” he said. “In five years we hope to be a vital part of this campus, another key facet that makes UCR so unique.”

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-4756
E-mail: john.warren@ucr.edu

Additional Contacts

Marcela Ramirez
Tel: (951) 827-7233
E-mail: marcela.ramirez@ucr.edu

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