'I was harassed by a male student' while wearing a hijab -- WSU newcomer

October 17, 2019, 4:30 PM

Wayne State undergraduate Selma Dajani has pointed questions for fellow students:

What would you do if you saw someone being religiously or racially discriminated against on campus?

Would you watch the ordeal or would you step in to solve the situation?

Selma Dajani: "There needs to be a campus-wide discussion." (Photo: Gabriela Baginski)

Her reason for asking is not abstract, she explains Wednesday in a column at The South End campus paper:

Within three weeks of being at Wayne State, I was harassed by a male student who used derogatory terms toward me and my friends in the Student Center.

He tauntingly called out: “Can you hear me? Allah, Allah. Can you hear me?” We were all wearing hijabs (traditional Islamic headscarves).

We were in an open space, surrounded by other students who watched the scene but did nothing to step in and help. . . . My friends and I were made to feel extremely uncomfortable.

Dajani kept mum then -- "I prefer to avoid conflict" -- and speaks out now to raise awarness and inspire interventions in such situations, she hopes. "It’s up to students to help end discrimination and harassment on campus," her 600-word essay's headline says.

I don't want anyone to be made to feel this way. Put yourself in the shoes of a person who has experienced this kind of harassment, would you want others to ignore the situation? Most likely you would not. . . .

An incident like this won’t stop me from attending Wayne State. But there needs to be a campus-wide discussion about what can we, as students, can do to prevent incidents of harassments like the one my friends and I experienced from happening again. . . .

Because my friends and I were not physically threatened or harmed, the university is limited in how it can respond. If we want our campus to be a safe and welcoming place for all students, we cannot solely rely on authorities. . . .

Students need to recognize that standing by and saying nothing when incidents of harassment occur they are inadvertently enabling harassment. We need to take responsibly, not just as students, but as adults. It is our duty to foster an environment that makes everyone feel safe. Being part of a community means you have to get involved.

Never be afraid to stand up to things happening around you.

Read more:  The South End

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