Going Hungry for a Cause

As if HUDS budget weren't enough, the Harvard Islamic Society gives students a reason to abstain from the dining hall

Halle K Phillips

Fasting (or just hungry) students stuff themselves

Dining halls from Annenberg to the Quad experienced record low attendance last Thursday—but surprisingly, it wasn’t due to the newly diminished Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) menu. The stomachs of the missing diners were growling for a cause, not because of budget cuts.

The Harvard Islamic Society’s (HIS) Fast-a-thon on Feb. 28 urged students to “go hungry for change.” Nearly 1500 students registered, promising to fast from dawn till dusk and to forego swiping in. HUDS, playing hero, pledged to donate the marginal cost of each meal not eaten to Save the Children.

“The main thing is not to swipe, but it’s also about experiencing a part of Islam most people don’t get exposed to,” said Shaheer A. Rizvi ’08, president of HIS.

The event was a part of Islamic Awareness Week, but it was co-sponsored by 28 religious and cultural groups to promote an interfaith dialogue, according to Rizvi.

“Fasting is so integral to the religion, so we encouraged people to fast, but it wasn’t mandatory,” said Tariq N. Ali ’09, the chair of the Fast-a-thon.

Having deprived themselves of HUDS various grilled chicken delicacies, hungry fasters were invited to catered dinners that evening, where they gorged themselves on pizza and Middle-Eastern delicacies.

The event certainly fulfilled half of its twofold agenda: HUDS donated $3,400.50 to Save the Children. But the attempt at a greater religious understanding wasn’t quite as successful. Even without ever-delicious HUDS food, swipeless students managed to sneak some snacks.

“I wanted to fast for real, but I got hungry so I went to the Greenhouse,” confessed Annie Wang ’11.

Whether participants secretly binged in the Barker Center cafe or used the event to appreciate religion until hallucinations of chickwiches danced before their eyes, the HIS Fast-a-thon did teach at least one valuable lesson: going a day without HUDS is always rewarding.