Andrew Shryock speaks to the Michigan Daily on issues of supporting Arab and Muslim students:
Andrew Shryock, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Anthropology, said it can be difficult for instructors and administrators — even those with good intentions — to know how to best support Arab and Muslim students.
“Very often people who support Arabs and Muslims on campus don’t actually support them in a way that’s meaningful for Arabs and Muslims. It’s a default ‘we hope you feel comfortable here’ kind of support,” Shryock said. “But it’s not necessarily based on any kind of intimate knowledge of their community or even affection for their causes or their traditions.”
Shryock said he takes efforts to avoid the group mentalities that often only serve to divide students and create environments that discourage real education. Such divisions can come into play during tense political discussions, such as those that occurred during the UM Divest campaign in the spring of 2014.
“That’s a mobilizing and fighting issue, people kind of team up to engage in that issue,” Shryock said. “I personally am not a teaming up kind of person. I like to, in my courses, create frameworks in which people can actually understand something about the Arab and Muslim world that’s not available to them in the United States.”
“It’s something where people have very strong feelings and feel they can’t trust the other side, and that always produces climate issues. It’s hard to work through that,” Shryock added in an e-mail to the Daily.