The Muslim Student Association brought Melanie Elturk to the Hilltop to speak to students about hijabs Tuesday in the Michel Student Center Ballroom.
Elturk’s career evolved from being an attorney to presiding as CEO of Haute Hijab, an online store for designer hijabs and modest women’s clothing. Bradley is one of her many stops along her tour of the country.
In her speech, Elturk told a story about men from her college harassing female passersby. However, when she walked in front of them with a hijab on they said nothing.
“Muslim women wear the hijab in order to be recognized as women of faith, so as not to be harassed or bothered,” Elturk said. “I think that there’s an inherent misunderstanding that to wear the headscarf means that you’re oppressed.”
Elturk said autonomy rests with the woman, and her tour is to help students gain an understanding about that issue, among many others.
“I learned a lot about culture and the meaning behind the hijab,” senior manufacturing engineer Lauren Dahlke said. “I was very encouraged by learning of the empowerment that a hijab gives to women to take control of their lives and religion.”
After Elturk spoke, she opened up the floor for questions. Students raised their hands or used a #BradleyHijabDay on Twitter to ask questions.
“I truly believe there is no better solution to co-existence than conducting open discussion,” MSA president Yasmine Musaitif said. “It builds understanding, respect and trust amongst people. In order for our society to progress and prosper, we should be participating more so in constructive conversation and less on hateful diatribes.”
The event ended with opportunities for all attendees to try on hijabs and take selfies.
“The headscarf is not exclusive to Muslim women, and we don’t own the hijab,” Elturk said. “So when I see other women wearing it in solidarity just for an hour, that’s nothing but good will.”