Department or Program

Political Science

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Nadya Hajj


Nabra. Deah, Yusor, and Razan. Ben. These names all have something in common—their deaths in some way were associated with Islamophobic motivations. In the United States’ context, there is something about identifying as “Muslim” that is particularly jeopardizing. Yet in a time where American Muslims have every rational reason to attempt to assimilate to escape the physical violence and discrimination due to religious persecution, Muslim Student Association (MSA) membership has only increased in the last two decades across the United States. My research seeks to explain why this paradox is occurring. What do MSAs offer that encourages students to join despite the threat of ostracization and violence? Through a mixed-methods approach, incorporating quantitative and qualitative data, as well as anecdotal experiences, I gain and present the value of MSAs, especially in today’s world which provides interesting context to understand what is takes to feel welcome, belonging and empowerment in an oppressive society.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 26, 2023