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Lawson Schultz (third from right), a senior art and sociology
double major, spent the summer at the University of Arkansas at Little
Rock investigating Muslim hate crimes and anti-Muslim sentiment in
Lawson Schultz, a
senior art and sociology double major at the University of Delaware,
said she is always looking for ways to learn about cultures and
communities that are different from her own. When the opportunity arose
to spend the summer investigating Muslim hate crimes at the University
of Arkansas at Little Rock, she knew the learning experience would be
Schultz, along with nine other student researchers from across the
country, spent eight weeks studying the perceptions of Muslims in
Arkansas who have been the target of discrimination, harassment or
interpersonal crime, along with the impacts such behaviors have on
victims. She participated in research and content workshops, alumni
presentations, experiential activities, collecting and analyzing data,
writing a research brief on findings, and giving a final presentation
for internal and external stakeholders.
“I was looking for an opportunity to do research over the summer that
was adjacent with sociology, and that was the program that really
interested me the most because of its focus on highlighting minority
experiences,” Schultz said. “In criminal justice and sociology research,
the area that is most interesting to me is centering voices that
historically in narratives are not included.”
The research was funded by a three-year National Science Foundation
grant, and the 2022 cohort was the first of 30 undergraduate students
who will participate in the design, implementation, analysis and
reporting of this project through the National Science Foundation
Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. During the second year
of the project, the researchers will conduct interviews with more people
of the Muslim community in Arkansas and send out a statewide survey.
The third year of research will include interviews with policy makers,
legislators and law enforcement about hate crime legislation.
While Schultz will not continue with the research — she is instead
working on her thesis that focuses on subsidized housing in Delaware —
she will utilize what she learned about different people’s identities
and values in her leadership roles on campus.
“One of the things I really feel like I gained from this experience
is how important it is to learn about other people's identities and
values so that you can be a better community member,” said Schultz, who
is planning to pursue a career in city planning and urban development.
“Highlighting the individual voices of people in the community is so
The opportunity also fostered collaboration skills and pushed her to
become a better team member, she said, since she had never worked on a
group project with that many people before.
Throughout the summer, Schultz visited different mosques, attended
services and interviewed Muslim leaders in the state. The experience,
Schultz said, was eye-opening.
“Having knowledge of other people's priorities and values is really
important,” Schultz said. “It just makes life a bit more vibrant when
you can consider all of the diverse cultures and communities that we
have around us.”
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Article by Amy Wolf, photo courtesy of Lawson Schultz
Published October 27, 2022