by Gareth Axenderrie
A campaign to fundraise for better facilities for Muslim students within the union has hit its £5,000 target.
The campaign, spearheaded by union president Fadhila Al Dhahouri, aims to raise £16,000 to be spent on upgrading ablution facilities for Muslim students in the Students’ Union.
The £5,000 raised will be added to a further £5,000 donation received last year from independent donor, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies.
Ablution is a washing ritual of hands, face, head, ears and feet that is performed prior to Muslim’s prayers. At the moment, students have to use the basins in the toilets to perform this ritual, which poses issues of hygiene, embarrassment and discomfort for students.
Cardiff Students’ Union currently has 2,400 Muslims on its student body. Last year, a motion at the union’s Annual General Meeting, that included the provision of ablution facilities, was passed by over 700 students.
Asked why more hasn’t been done in the past to address concerns surrounding ablutions facilities, Al Dhahouri told Gair Rhydd that it simply has not been made a priority.
“We have a small facility in the Postgraduate Teaching Centre which is not central. I deliberately engaged minorities and international students more than any other candidate as part of my election campaign. Leadership that delivers on their promises creates and sustains engagement. If people don’t feel listened to, they disengage. I want to change that.”
Several speakers spoke against the moves at last year’s AGM, citing concerns that the plans only focussed on one group within the student community. However, the president believes that the move can be a benefit to all students.
Al Dhahouri continued: “In the era of diversity we are living in, we need our SU and the University to have inclusivity for all our students in everything we do.
“This is part of a wider effort on inclusivity, which will include gender-neutral toilets, green energy initiatives and a wider range of campaigns and activities for more students to feel they have a voice at our SU.
“Having ablution facilities is only one element to show support for the needs of our students, especially the protected characteristics under the Equality act. We are proud we have raised over £5,000 in this campaign.”
It is understood that the union is now exploring options for a start date, with minimising disruption to students a priority.