Two students smile and look into bowls filled with food. They are laughing at each other.
Engineering sophomore Durrah Azdi, left, and LSA senior Nurin Miss, right, enjoy tiramisu and knafeh at the Muslim Coalition’s second annual Cultural Chai Night in an effort to fundraise for Palestine at North Quad Thursday evening. Tess Crowley/Daily. Buy this photo.

UMich Muslim Coalition hosts second annual Cultural Chai Night

More than 100 University of Michigan students gathered for a night of food, games and fundraising at the second annual Cultural Chai Night Thursday evening in North Quad Residence Hall. Hosted by The Muslim Coalition, a union of Muslim-adjacent student organizations on campus, organized the event to provide a space for shared culture and fundraise for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

Many student organizations presented at the event and provided food for attendees,  including Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, Yemeni Students’ Association, Students Organize for Syria, Bangladeshi Students Association and more. Attendees mingled with peers as they drank chai and snacked on cake rusk, biscuits and basbousa. Throughout the evening, leaders from the organizations spoke about the purpose of their clubs on campus and provided food, while encouraging attendees to donate to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Following the presentations, leaders guided attendees outside to do the last prayer of the day, Isha.

In an interview with The Daily, LSA senior Kamilla Baybayova, external event coordinator for the Muslim Coalition, said she hopes Cultural Chai Night can connect different members of the University’s Muslim community.

“It’s an extremely tough time in our community, and I think that this event is a great opportunity to gather everyone around and witness firsthand how collectively united and strong we are together while highlighting the plethora of unique and amazing cultures that we have on our very own campus,” Baybayova said. “I think that’s what I’m most excited about.”

Engineering senior Haashir Ali, co-president of the Pakistani Student Association, told The Daily it was good to see diverse members of the Muslim Coalition come together and coalesce for Cultural Chai Night.

“The Muslim community is not just one specific defined group; you have people all the way from Malaysia spanning all the way to Morocco, everything in between,” Ali said. “I think it’s so beautiful to see all different types of people represented, and it gives you a chance to interact with everybody.”

LSA junior Maria Wajahat, chair of the Muslim Coalition, told The Daily she thinks events like Cultural Chai Night are important to raise awareness and educate people about different cultures, especially those in the minority at the University.

“It’s really important for our campus to understand that there are many different cultures and perspectives,” Wajahat said. “It’s really important for education, to create an environment where we embrace differences.”

LSA sophomore Rehma Saeed, vice president of the Pakistani Student Association, told The Daily she was happy with the event’s turnout.

“I think it’s really great,” Saeed said. “Usually people don’t show up on time for these things, but it was 7 p.m. and so many people were here.”

LSA sophomore Ammar Khan, a member of the Pakistani Student Association, told The Daily that events like Cultural Chai Night give Muslim students a space at the University where they can celebrate aspects of their cultures and foster community.

“Because there’s so little representation, taking this one little corner of the college and making it kind of just about us and getting to know each other a little better — I think that’s what (events like these) need to be,” Khan said.

Daily News Contributors Libby Stafford and Christina Zhang can be reached at and