The Collegian
Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Dining hall extends operation hours for Ramadan

<p>Sign in the Heilman Dining center with information about accommodations for Ramadan.</p>

Sign in the Heilman Dining center with information about accommodations for Ramadan.

The Heilman Dining Center extended its hours to 8:30 p.m., as opposed to its normal closing time of 8:00 pm, from Apr. 2 to May 2 in observance of Ramadan. 

The Westhampton Room in the Heilman Dining Center is currently reserved for prayer each evening through Ramadan from 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.

“The culinary staff in the Heilman Dining Center, including myself and our dietitian, partner with the Office of the Chaplaincy to meet the dietary needs of our students during religious holidays,” wrote Terry Baker, executive director of dining services, in an email to The Collegian. “Our discussions with the Chaplaincy coincide with our menu planning for each semester and extend throughout the academic year.”

First-year Amal Ali said that Ramadan, one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith, is her favorite part of being Muslim. First-year Usra Karar described Ramadan as a natural cleansing to get rid of bad habits.

“Ramadan is a holiday where Muslims feel what those in need have felt, whether that’s with food and water, or money,” Karar said. 

Ramadan is a time for creating new habits and self-reflecting, first-year Shermin Uzair said.

“It teaches us to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice and to have compassion for those less fortunate,” Uzair said. “We aren’t starving ourselves; we’re using stored energy to allow us to function throughout the day.”

Suhoor is the pre-dawn meal eaten before the fast begins and iftar is the evening meal to break the fast. 

“Fasting while being in college and having a busy schedule has been a lot to adjust to, physically and mentally,” Ali said. 

All three students mentioned how hard it had been to adjust to celebrating this holy month without the comforts of home, but also said the community of people on campus with similar backgrounds was refreshing. 

“The University has been pretty accommodating,” Ali said. “We’re able to get dates to break our fast through the Chaplaincy… the dining hall gives us kits for breakfast so we can have breakfast in our dorms. It’s been helpful.” 

There are halal dates and breakfast bags available at Bruce’s during Ramadan, according to the Dining Services website

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“I am thankful the University was taking initiative to help the small community on campus,” Karar said. 

While Ali appreciated the dining hall’s efforts during Ramadan, she wished they would be available year-round, she said.

“Nutrition-wise, you get protein deficient,” Ali said. “If Halal food is a big part of your family, getting a balanced diet is harder once you get to school.”

All three students mentioned wanting their friends and peers to try and become a part of the celebration. 

“But please don’t tiptoe around us,” Karar said. “It’s OK to eat and drink around us, but being conscious of the fact that I’m fasting is important.” 

Ali said that while she had wanted to spend time with her friends, she knew she wouldn’t have as much time with them as Ramadan took precedence.

Although UR is not a majority Muslim community, students should be considerate of those who participate in Ramadan, Uzair said.

“You can say ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ [a common greeting during Ramadan], things like that make a significant difference, especially since we don’t live in a Muslim majority country where everyone is familiar with the concept and purpose of Ramadan,” she said. 

Contact news writer Amy Jablonski at amy.jablonski@richmond.edu.

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