The student union took three months to allow a Muslim society to call itself 'Islamic'.

KUSU – controversy over society name change

The student union came under strong criticism today after a lengthy battle surrounding the name of a faith society finally came to an end.

Mohsen Al-Khoei, president of the Shia-Muslim Ahlul Bayt Society, was disgruntled at the fact that it had taken the union three months and several meetings to constitutionally add the title Islamic to its name.

Mohsen, a third year Business Management student, said: “Although they finally approved the name change I was really disappointed by the way this matter was handled by the university and the SU and the time it took to be approved.

“Our society has been established for a good few years and has proven that it is indeed representing Islam and Muslims.”

Last year, Mohsen had agreed with Michelle Thorpe, who was then in charge of SU societies, to run the society as Ahlul Bayt Islamic Society.

But during Islamic Awareness week in November, Societies Coordinator, Gemma Richens, requested to remove “Islamic” from the name, as it didn’t appear in the constitution of the society.

Mohsen asked the union to adjust the constitution but they rejected it on the grounds that it would be confusing to have two Islamic Societies at university.

They suggested to call the society Ahlul Bayt Shia Islamic society instead.

Rhiannon Hiscocks, VP activities, said: “It’s easier if they are clear in what they say. For example you don’t want to join the wine society and find out all they do is talk about beer. You need to be clear on what’s on there.”

The student union finally agreed to the name change on 11 February after they were told by Stan Brown, the university chaplain, that the society was affiliated to the Muslim Student Council and its national branding Ahlul Bayt Islamic Society.

Rhiannon said: “If we had known that they were attached to an external organisation from the beginning that probably would have been fine. The name made sense to us then.”

The student union confirmed that it had handled the case to the correct proceedures and said the delay was mainly due to its bad timing just before the Christmas period and January, when the executive board didn’t meet.

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