‘A Day in Hijab’: Discussing the divide

Event attendees share an anecdote about her day wearing the hijab during the "A Day in A Hijab" debriefing in the student union on April. 19. (Alanud Alanazi | The Collegian)

The Muslim Students Association hosted “A Day in Hijab” on Wednesday. The event, held in the Kansas State Student Union, was intended to educate students on the cultural significance of the hijab and share the experience of wearing one.

In addition to wearing the hijab — a traditional scarf or veil covering the head and neck for modesty or piety — those participating were also encouraged to cover their arms and legs and behave in a manner that is humble, respectful and peaceful.

The event included a photo booth, hijab tutorials for walk-in guests and was followed by a discussion of the participants’ experiences. Fifty-four participants wore a hijab throughout the day and about 30 people signed up to attend the discussion session.

This idea came about as a way to start the conversation on misconceptions surrounding the scarves in light of today’s cultural intolerance.

Siti Farhiah Abdul Manan, grain science and industry doctoral student from Malaysia and president of the Malaysian Student Association, helped put on this event. The main point she said she wanted to get across is that everyone is equal regardless of what you wear, your skin color and where you are from.

“We are all the same, we are all human and students here and everyone is welcome,” Abdul Manan said. “You don’t have to be afraid of what people think about you because this is you and this is how you were brought up in your country.”

Many took part in the event to show a sense of solidarity. One such participant was Yakira Frank, graduate student in English. Expecting animosity, Frank’s experience was not what she anticipated.

“Mostly it’s how hard people try to not look at me, instead of how weird people look at me,” Frank said. “I walked past a friend earlier and he was trying so hard to not look at my hijab that he didn’t recognize me.”

Many echoed the statement, noticing not only the change in eye contact, but also a change in how they were addressed. During the discussion, some brought up being avoided and their peers making a point not to bring up how they were dressed.

Alex Aye, a sophomore in kinesiology, described her experience as a positive one. She, among others at the discussion, described a connection with others in hijabs and across cultures.

Aside from facing the pressure from others, the heat and wind posed noticeable challenges for participants. Aye, who works in a kitchen, struggled with the heat and maintaining her modesty in the strong winds.

“I have a lot more respect for the students who do wear hijabs and wear longer-sleeved attire because, wow, I could hardly survive a day like that,” Aye said. “It’s enlightening that they have that much commitment to their culture and their faith. It’s really inspiring.”