Women smiling in Middle Eastern clothes.
Middle Eastern textiles
Four men posing for a selfie.
Woman drawing hena on a hand.

Middle Eastern North African Programming

History of MENA Programming

Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) students are a recently recognized population that has historically been underserved by the campus and MSC. While some MENA students identify with the BCC or APIDASC, many MENA students see themselves as a distinct population with their own unique cultures and heritages, and therefore deserving of their own dedicated resources. In fall 2023, operations intern Dana Tabaza advocated for the creation of programming and targeted support for this population. Dana created a questionnaire asking MSC students about their level of interest in programs and a center for MENA students. A total of 371 students responded, all of whom agreed or strongly agreed that there should be programming and space for MENA students in the MSC. Of the respondents, 112 identified as MENA.

The universal support for MENA programming led to the creation of MENA Social Night as the first MENA-focused program since the 2018 MENA Heritage Month. This event brought Middle Eastern and North African students together to build community. In planning the event, Dana estimated 120 students would attend. More than 150 attendees participated in MENA-themed Human Bingo and various board and card games staying well past the official end time of the event. The overwhelming success of MENA Social Night and Dana’s advocacy for a position focused on MENA students resulted in the establishment of the MENA programming intern position, which Dana stepped into for spring 2023.

MENA Heritage Month

March 2023 marked the celebratory return of Middle Eastern North African Heritage Month (MENAHM) to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The month recognizes the vibrant cultures of the MENA region, as well as the rich cultural heritages and experiences of MENA-identifying individuals. Nationally, April is the informally recognized heritage month for this historical and cultural celebration. However, the UW-Madison campus and Multicultural Student Center observe Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month (APIDAHM) in April, so MENAHM is celebrated in March. 

In 2018, UW-Madison celebrated its first MENAHM. The inaugural month was sponsored by the MSC and supported by a student committee of fifteen individuals. In total, MENAHM 2018 hosted four events, attracting 141 attendees in total. MENAHM 2023 brought the MENA campus population together again, building on the legacy of 2018 with a collective of 30 individuals leading nine events with nearly 700 attendees. 

Sponsored by the Multicultural Student Center and made possible by students whose passion for their heritage goes beyond borders and stereotypes, MENA Heritage Month recognizes a vibrant community, their stories, and their cultural contributions to the UW–Madison campus and beyond. MENAHM seeks to provide representation and community for over 1,000 MENA-identifying students on the UW-Madison campus.

MENAHM Collective

The MENAHM Collective is a student-led group committed to creating MENAHM programming that addresses student needs, represents the diversity of the region, and attracts students from across the UW-Madison campus. For MENAHM 2023, the collective consisted of 30 students representing 11 student organizations.

Collective Student Organization

  • African Student Association
  • Alpha Lambda Mu
  • Alpha Lambda Rho
  • Arab Students Association
  • Bellydancing-UW
  • Middle Eastern Law Students Association
  • North African Student Organization
  • Persian Student Society
  • Saudi Student Association
  • Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Turkish Students Association
Group of people in Middle Eastern outfits.

MENA Programming Staff

Noreen Siddiqui

Position title: Assistant Director, Multicultural Student Center

Dana Tabaza

Position title: MENA Programming Intern