Institutionalized segregation is supposedly dead in America, but not at the University of Kansas. It continues to operate a segregated zone in a lunchroom that is itself exclusive to women, offering a “safe place” for Muslim women, The College Fix reported Thursday.
February will mark the one year anniversary of the special area, even though the university has never articulated why Muslim women require an extra measure of safety.
“It is mainly used by Muslim women because it allows them a space to remove [their] hijabs and eat,” said Abdoulie Njai, KU student senate director of diversity and inclusion, in an email last week to The College Fix.
The sanctuary is open on weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. and is located in the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. Though technically open to all female students, its intended purpose is to provide a segregated zone for female Muslim students.
According to Njai, “it has become very popular and many students utilize the space.”
Njai insisted the lunchroom is considered a “safe place” for them.
“Prior to me becoming Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Omar Rana, our last director of diversity and inclusion worked very closely with international students. He was informed that international students who wore hijabs were being forced to leave campus because there was no place on campus where they could eat,” he told The College Fix. “Omar collaborated with Precious Porras the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and they decided to transform one of their rooms into the women’s lunch room to create a safe place for these students to eat.”
When the women’s only lunchroom first opened, its debut was largely ignored by both mainstream and local media.
The university’s paper, The University Daily Kansan offered this comment from then-diversity and inclusion director Rana.
“One thing that they [Muslim women] mentioned is that they didn’t really have a place to go for lunch hours,” said Rana. “They can’t really eat in the union because they would have to take off their burqa or niqab, which they can’t do, or they would have to eat under it, which isn’t always the most comfortable.”
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