Westerville responds: Spring Gala time change

Chloe Carnes, Reporter

Students throughout Westerville planning to attend the Spring Gala, which was originally 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., were conflicted due to Muslim students participating in Ramadan.

Ramadan is a religious month of praying and fasting for Muslims that starts in April and ends in early May. During this month, the Muslim community fasts for the majority of their day, and they break their fast when the sun sets. This month Muslims are asked to recenter their life around what pleases them in their journey with their religion. 

On May 8  the anticipated time for the sun to set is 8:40 p.m. Since the galas run from 7p.m. to 9 p.m., it would only give Muslim students less than 20 minutes to enjoy their food. “This was not fair and would have made the event very uncomfortable for Muslim students,” Muheeb Hijazeen illutrates. 

Senior Muheeb Hijazeen, from Westerville Central high school started a petition for administration to change the time of the Spring Gala to accommodate for Muslim students  throughout the district. 

Hijazeen explained how the petition got started. “We started by respectfully reaching out to our administration team and talking to them about possibly moving the date to the following week but that idea was shut down pretty fast. We asked them about changing the timing to include all students, and it was also shut down. So before my meeting with Mr. Lanier, I decided the best way to show that our community cares about this topic was to create a petition to allow all voices to be heard.”

The petition soon spread throughout all three Westerville high schools and got a total of 1,159 signatures from students from all high schools along with parents that have kids attending school in the Westerville district. Due to all the attention gained and signatures reached, district administrators agreed to change the time to allow Muslim students time to eat and enjoy their food with their friends. 

Hijazeen explains how he felt after his petition successfully got the attention of administrators and his goal was reached. “I felt a mix of emotions. I was disappointed that after the countless number of ways people can educate themselves we still had to fight for something that seems like common sense. Although, I was so proud to see how the community can come together and fight the fight that is very important.”