In Northfield, Vermont Norwich University freshman Sana Hamze is busy worrying about five minute showers, following orders and hiking up a mountain with a pack as heavy as a small child.
What she doesn’t have time worry about is her hijab. The 18-year-old is making history as the first student to ask the country’s oldest private military college for a religious accommodation. She wanted to attend the school and continue to wear the hijab. Her request was granted.
As the Boston Globe writes, “now, with the fall semester underway in the hills of this central Vermont town, the fact that one student wears the hijab is turning out to be what Hamze hoped it would — not a big deal.”
And that’s the beauty of Sana Hamze and her request—it’s no big deal. Whether Hamze and the administration at Norwich University realize it or not they’re making quietly history. With the decision to allow Hamze her religious accommodation they prove that the hijab is not a hinderance or a barrier but a part of life for some people.
“I just go about my day, and I do what I have to do,” Hamze said. “If I am representing Muslims, then I am, but I don’t really see it like that, I just see it as me going to college.”
Norwich quiet decision is in stark contrast to the uproar that sounded Hamze last spring when she asked The Citadel, a historic South Carolina military school, for the exact same accommodation. She was admitted into the school but her request to continue wearing the hijab was denied on the grounds that it would “interfere with its [the school’s] goal of uniformity.”
Norwich president Richard W. Schneider told the Globe that he based the decision to accept Hamze’s request on the “federal Department of Defense uniform policy, which was recently changed to allow case-by-case exceptions for religious reasons.”
“It’s the right thing to do, too,” he said.