AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new type of sorority rush is underway this week on the Forty Acres. University of Texas at Austin’s first Muslim sorority is searching for its first class of new members. As first reported by the Daily Texan, rush week for UT’s beta chapter of Mu Delta Alpha began Monday.
Mu Delta Alpha is the first Muslim sorority in the U.S. It was founded in 2016 at UT Dallas, UT Austin’s chapter is the second, and the third chapter is a joint effort between the University of North Texas and Texas Women’s University. It is a professional sorority which focuses on bringing Muslim women together through sisterhood, career networking, and service.
This week, students who are rushing will attend information sessions and social events. They’ll also be asked to do an interview an fill out an application. The sorority’s UT Austin president Maria Haseem said women who receive bids will be invited to a dinner. They hope to initially start off with 15-20 members who will be the founding leaders of the chapter, then grow their numbers in the coming years.
“It’s kind of important to bring up, why do Muslim women want to jump in on the Greek life, like what’s in it for them?” Haseem said.”And I think the main issue is because we’re Muslim–a very, very important part of our religion is the fact that we are all sisters. Within our religion, we are all sisters in Islam and something like a sisterhood is something that’s very ingrained in our religious community.”
She explained that there is a large Muslim community at UT Austin who turn to groups like the Muslim Student Association and the mosque on Nueces Street for resources.
“We have like our own values we have to balance along with our Islamic values and our career goals,” she explained. “When we see someone who has already achieved that status or achieved that career plan, it really really helps us see, ‘I can take this path and I can balance my life in this way in order to achieve what I want.'”
As a student, Haseem is on a pre-Med track because she wants to be a neurosurgeon. For most of her young adulthood, she’s struggled to find Muslim women career mentors. But recently, she was inspired by meeting an Islamic doctor who balanced faith, family, and career.
“Women like these are super incredible and they’re out there, we just don’t have the opportunity to connect with them,” Haseem said. She explained that the sorority hopes to build more of those connections.
“I guess it’s kind of understood by the fact that we’re Muslim is that we won’t necessarily have the same kind of culture that normal fraternities and sororities might have,” Haseem added. “The way we might be involved with other Greek groups on campus will be primarily through philanthropic events.”
Co-vice president of the sorority, Aya Akid believes this group brings a different kind of culture to Greek life and to campus.
“There have been a few issues on campus because of different cultures and backgrounds, so bringing a group an organization that’s based of Muslim professionals I feel is very important,” she said.
She hopes to see this sorority expanding to other cities and states.
“We hope that we can look up to other women, and become the women that other girls that will come to UT at some point look up to as well,” she said. “We all say what starts here changes the world and we hope we continue to build that legacy.”