Students collaborate to reactivate Middle Eastern Student Association

Mariam Eid, Nelley Sobh, Issa Abusada and Dany Demashkiah (left to right) are working to revive the Middle Eastern Student Association. Grace Everett | Photographer

By Ana Ruiz Brictson | Staff Writer

With four students working together to reactivate the Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA), an estimated 40 students have shown interest in joining the organization.

Egypt junior Mariam Eid, Dallas junior Nelley Sobh, Houston freshman Issa Abusada and Dallas sophomore Dany Demashkiah have been collaborating this semester to bring the organization back to life after it had been left with no leadership team a few years ago.

According to Eid, the organization is open to anyone of Middle Eastern descent and anyone who is interested in learning more about Middle Eastern culture.

“Even though the Middle Eastern population at Baylor is very small, our culture is rooted in community and sharing,” Eid said. “We’re just a very colorful background, so reactivating MESA is just the natural progression of our culture.”

Sobh said regardless of anyone’s religious or political stance, the congregation is one of the biggest things within their communities.

According to Sobh, MESA began a few years back with a different set of students who have already graduated. The following year, the group wasn’t able to reactive because there weren’t enough students.

“It was an official organization, but what happened was whenever the people who founded the organization were graduating, they didn’t have a good amount of people to pass it down to,” Abusada said. “So it basically terminated itself.”

Sobh said they are currently working to reactivate the organization and make it officially affiliated with Baylor again.

“We are in the process of creating a bigger plan for the fall semester,” Sobh said. “Right now, we’re more interested in seeing how many people are going to participate in the organization so we don’t have a repeat of what happened before.”

Eid said even though there are currently small plans for MESA, they are working on creating big things for the organization in the near future. One of the things they are planning is similar to Fiesta but would include Middle Eastern food and dance. Additionally, they are planning to create a lot of social events and cross-cultural discussions with other organizations.

Sobh said one of the difficulties in finding their audience at Baylor is that Middle Easterners are considered white. When checking the race box at Baylor, there is not an option for students to specify if they are from the Middle East.

“It doesn’t affect me as much as it does other people who sit with a certain ethnicity but don’t sit with that race,” Sobh said.

Abusada said it is very difficult to find Middle Easterners at Baylor because they are tied to a white demographic.

“For me, it’s about implementing an organization that can connect people that are alike and different as well,” Demashkiah said. “The Middle Eastern culture, it’s so different but alike at the same time, and just spreading awareness on Middle Eastern culture.”