Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Monday, May 27, 2024 — Houston, TX

Students comment on Ramadan dining accommodations

Students and community members gathered for an Eid gala April 13. Rice Housing and Dining extended servery hours during Ramadan. Courtesy Ameenat Adisa

By Belinda Zhu and Aisha Khemani     4/16/24 10:15pm

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan ran March 10 to April 9 this year, according to the Islamic calendar. During the month, observers fast from dawn until sundown, a period of introspection and communal prayer.

The Muslim Student Association and Housing & Dining have worked together in past years to support students as they fast through the end of the semester, including campus-wide events such as Beer Bike according to David McDonald, the interim vice president of H&D. 

“H&D is committed to supporting all our students, including those observing Ramadan,” McDonald wrote in an email to the Thresher. “We’ve expanded our efforts from previous years by keeping one Servery open for dinner until [9:30] p.m. every night. We also provide breakfast and snacks during this time, so students fasting for Ramadan can eat well before dawn each day.”

MSA President Mohammad Khuroo coordinated these efforts with H&D to improve accommodations for students who fast during Ramadan.

“A lot of MSA students might have labs, club activities, classes or other commitments [that conflict with] the sun setting at around 7:30 [p.m.],” Khuroo, a Sid Richardson College junior, said. “These extended hours help MSA students, and others who fast, out a lot.”

MSA also asked for pre-dawn snacks known as ‘suhoor,’ a meal Muslims fasting usually eat at dawn before their fast begins, to be available during dinner time.

“During the extended dining hours, usually around 8 [p.m.], H&D leaves out an assortment of breakfast items like granola bars, fruit [and] breakfast tacos either for students to make their own bags or prepared bags they can use the following day,” Khuroo said.

Duncan College freshman Radhiya Bharmal said that keeping the servery open until 8:30 p.m. helped her fasting experience a lot. 

“Sunset’s around 7:45 p.m., and there isn’t enough time to [get there and] get food if the servery closes at 8 p.m., so extending it to 8:30 was great,” Bharmal said. “The suhoor packets they provided were also great. H&D does a great job, and did an especially good job during Ramadan. At dinner, I was never ever disappointed.”

Bharmal expressed appreciation for the wide variety of halal options available. 

“For high school, I went to a boarding school at University of North Texas,” Bharmal said. “Of the five dining halls, there wasn’t a single halal dining option. Here, I saw the insane amount of halal options that were made available. I worked for a month at West Servery with Chef Kyle, and it was a great experience. I told him I was grateful for the halal options and ever since then, it’s like he’s increased the halal options, which is amazing.”

MSA vice-president Murtaza Kazmi said that though he appreciated being able to break his fast on campus,  food quality this year was lower than last year. 

“Last year, there was a whole new menu with freshly made food right at the moment we broke fast,” Kazmi, a Baker College junior said. “This year, it felt as if the food  available was just leftovers from the rest of the normal dinner menu.”

Zane Tannir said that he appreciated the take-home breakfast option but expressed annoyance with the swipe system.

“They gave us these beef and egg sandwiches we could take home for breakfast, which we have at 4 a.m. before we fast for the day, which was nice, but they would make us swipe for them,” Tannir, a Jones College senior, said. “It was annoying how they made us swipe for dinner then swipe again for the sandwich, when they’re really not a full meal and not a full swipe’s worth of food.”

Kazmi said that in the future, he hopes that there are no food shortages as was seen this year. 

“Students told me about how food ran out, or there was a significant waiting period between when the food finished and the chefs brought out the next tray – which was as much as 30 minutes,” Kazmi said. “I hope H&D keeps up the good work in terms of offering these accommodations for Muslim students like myself, but making sure the food is available and the consistency is high would definitely be something we’d like to see.”

More from The Rice Thresher

NEWS 5/24/24 11:48am
Rice Mutual Aid partners with student organizations to fundraise for Gaza

Rice Mutual Aid launched a fundraising campaign for Gaza on May 13 in partnership with 15 other student organizations at Rice, including Rice Students for Justice in Palestine, Rice Pride, the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice and the Rice Muslim Student Association. RMA will direct donations towards American Near East Refugee Aid, a non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian aid and emergency relief in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. A day after its launch, the campaign raised over $2,000 according to RMA’s Instagram.

NEWS 5/19/24 8:57pm
Jones School breaks ground on new expansion, final project to wrap up spring 2026

The Jones Graduate School of Business will expand its building, constructing an additional 95,000 square feet around McNair Hall. Rice Business announced blueprint plans for the new $54.5 million building at its groundbreaking May 9. The new building will include multiple large classrooms, lecture halls, dining facilities, event spaces and communal areas, designed to “blend seamlessly with the campus and its surroundings.”


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.