Tell me a little bit about yourself: What’s your name, where are you from, what’s your major, ect.?
My name is Nico Pacilli, and I’m originally from North Philadelphia, but grew up right here in Morgantown. I’m studying sociology as my major and my minor is law and legal studies. Ultimately, I’m trying to go into law school—God willing—and become a lawyer for immigration and civil rights—truly something I believe is best for this nation and this world.
What brought you to WVU? How long have you been living here?
I decided to stay here in town and go to West Virginia University, mostly for tuition costs. I thought of going back to Philly. I have most of my family there, especially since I’ve lived here about my whole life. Though, just the cost of things would be too high. Honestly, it was a great decision to stay, in my opinion, with the goals I’m able to complete.
What do you think of the University? What about Morgantown as a whole?
The University here has given me great opportunities to work with, and it has helped shape me with the courses offered and the people I have met, with the addition of some faculty too. Morgantown, as a whole, isn’t too bad. I believe it is one-track minded and has the mentality of a small town. Everything has to go a certain way; there isn’t much room for diversity of opinions and even people. That’s how I see it growing up here.
Do you feel as though you belong and are welcome here? Why or why not?
For the University and town itself, I feel a bit outcasted, except within the group of people I’m close with personally. You know a lot of us come together regardless of what our backgrounds may be or our differences, but we don’t truly come together and talk and [are] open to learning. We stick to what we know, and the thing is, that for us as minorities, we understand the dominant culture and we always live in it. But for the majority to exclude themselves in that culture only creates more stereotypes and increases hate, and that is something I see personally, from my perspective, and many would agree, sadly.
Why did you choose to be involved with the Muslim Student Association?
I was actually invited to join the Muslim Students Association, and once I did, I really fell in love with this whole group of people on the board. We all work well as a team, we’re great friends now as well, and I just feel it is important, now that I look back at this. Ultimately, because it is good that we can represent our religion in the best light and actually show that to everyone to come and learn more and be open to everyone including us.
Do you feel your organization gets the recognition it deserves on campus? Why or why not?
I do not believe it does, mostly because we aren’t talked about by the University often and also [we should] have more students be open to talking to us. I think it is good to be able to serve the communities, and we reach out with community service and events that can attract different people like game nights, too. I think that even the University should capitalize on that for us and help our name be bigger. You don’t have to be Muslim to be a part of our organization. It is about Islam, but we really all can come together and talk about it, regardless of our own faith. We are all always learning, whether we are Muslim or not.
What is your take on the way the University deals with diverse groups/organizations and the cultural mix on campus?
The University needs to be able to showcase diversity more than just with pictures on the main page. The University should push for larger events by asking questions not just about our [organizations], but our cultures and things that deal with us, too. Let’s make this campus a safe space, not just for our organizations or friend groups.
Lastly, what do you feel makes you and your organization diverse, and what message would you like to share to the rest of the University?
My organization represents the Muslim students on this campus. We are proud and unapologetic as well. We want to show everyone what being a Muslim is like and what that means to us. This organization is a safe space, but it is an open space for all people of all backgrounds, regardless of faith or lack thereof, to come together and talk. We talk about Islam, but we also talk about everyday things that really show we all are just everyday people trying to get that degree, too. I love pineapple pizza as much as Tim from Logan County, West Virginia loves pineapple pizza. I can say the same for a decent amount of people on our