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We were once students.

We understand the challenges that all students face. We adjusted to new roommates, new food, and a new life, on campus. We faced a new level of academic rigor, new decisions, new priorities. Our friends included Muslims who became distanced as well as ones who became inspired, and non- Muslims who queried Islam through us while we may well have been struggling with questions of our own. We had classmates who – independently of religion altogether – needed a counselor to lean on. Our efforts to facilitate campus Muslim life met with budget shortfalls. Assembling over iftaars remained a daily struggle during Ramadan. We sensed the need for a permanent Muslim voice to support us and advocate for us – a voice in which many could find direction regardless of religiosity or faith.

We never forgot that.

In 2007, a group of us conceived of a financial vehicle through which alumni could support Muslim life at Cornell. We titled the foundation "Diwan" for the diverse array of artistic and executive meanings it conveys, from poetry and calligraphy to a governing body or council in Arabic, Persian and other languages. How fitting that it was also a Breton word for "germination." Diwan Foundation was incorporated in 2008, and in 2010 was registered as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization in the state of New York . On February 24, 2011 – a wintry, Ithaca day that felt all too familiar – directors, students, faculty, and administrators gathered in the Founders Room of Anabel Taylor Hall officially to launch Diwan.

While our Cornell experiences are unique and span many generations, we have each benefitted from a Muslim presence on campus. Because of our gratitude to and fondness for Cornell, we share a desire to improve this experience for future generations.

We are forever Cornellians.




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