Indiana State students celebrated World Hijab Day on Feb. 1, 2018, in a unique and eye-opening way this year. Guided by graduate student Alyaa Malibari, students on campus participated in the Hijab Challenge. A variety of females on campus wore head scarves, hijabs, and full face coverings for the duration of the day. 

Malibari brought the idea to Indiana State after hearing about the experience of a friend in Washington state who wore a head covering while going about her normal day.  

“The idea was that she was the same person, she didn’t act differently at all, but everyone else changed the way that they were interacting with her,” said Malibari. “Since I am used to wearing the hijab, I am used to the way people look at me so I don’t feel different, but she felt the difference.”

Participants in ISU’s Hijab Challenge went about their normal routines, going to class, the mall, eating, working out, etc., in a head covering to learn more about the discrimination and prejudice one may receive if they wear a head covering. The goal of the project was to open eyes, educate others and work to break stereotypes on ISU’s campus. 

“Alyaa dressed me in a full body hijab and we decided to go out into the community,” said Radasia Blaylock, a first-year graduate student studying student affairs and higher education. “A lot of people stared at me, made comments, and gave me dirty looks.” said Blaylock, who also helped plan the event.

“A part of me wanted to take off the hijab to show that I am African-American, that I was born in the United States, that I am a Christian,” Blaylock said. However, she kept the hijab on and continued to speak with others to help educate individuals on stereotypes that come with religion and head coverings. 

“We need to start educating people about the differences and similarities of religion and culture. We can create a domino effect and teach others not to judge based on what we see,” said Blaylock. 

ISU is continuing to work towards inclusive excellence and educating students about cultures different than their own through programs offered by the Office for Multicultural Services where Blaylock works. “Together, we can work to educate ourselves. We can fix this on our campus,” Blaylock said.Worl