America is known as a melting pot, celebrating all freedom loving people. Citizens work together daily, regardless of differences in views, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or sexuality. In today’s politically polarized climate, however, many collegegoers have become intolerant of diversity, especially regarding personal beliefs.
A freshman at the University of Central Florida accused members of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) of encouraging oppression of women. In response, many are calling for the school to expel the student. However, differences in outlooks are not grounds for termination but are protected under the First Amendment, regardless of whether they proceed with the values supported by the majority.
MSA recently hosted a World Hijab Day event during which they invited colleagues to wear complimentary headscarves and discuss its significance to Islam, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Kathy Zhu, a freshman, posted pictures of the gathering and expressed her feelings on Twitter:
After a quick look at her page, it was found that she also often retweets comments with the hashtag “deport them [Muslims] all” and that Islam “has no place” in the U.S.
UCF is the second most populated school in the nation, with a diverse student body. As a pupil at the college, I often work with individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and viewpoints all likewise striving towards the American dream. Although I do not agree with Zhu’s feelings to “deport them all,” I do support her right to free speech and her passion in believing she is promoting liberty for all women.
The topic of the hijab as a symbol of oppression or liberation is highly controversial and not entirely settled. Numerous females are forced to wear the headscarf and abide by strict rules. However, many wear the garment by choice, with the conviction that it “liberates” and brings them closer to their God. Therefore, it cannot be generalized that all hijab-wearing women are victims of oppression.
Rayyan Sukkarieh, a member of MSA who was present on the day of their event, explained that she remembers inviting Zhu to communicate with the group, according to Knights News. She states:
“You [Zhu] didn’t take the time to even ask a question or try to understand what Hijab is. That’s ignorant on you. You literally sprinted after taking the photos. Pathetic.”
She then released a post asking colleagues to email the Office of Student Conduct to expel Zhu, proclaiming, “Ignorance will not be tolerated on my campus.” Although it is understandable for such disagreements to take place, Zhu did not make any violent actions or threats. Furthermore, she did not breach any rules under the UCF code of conduct.
To call for her expulsion is to attempt to stifle the freedoms granted under the First Amendment and damage intellectual growth. MSA should reconsider these actions, as Zhu proclaims, “That’s the definition of fascism.” Zhu now alleges to be facing threats from colleagues over her posts.
UCF recently released a statement that she will not face punishment from the school.
College students must become accustomed to the fact that they will face disagreements in everyday life in the real world. There is, after all, a big world outside of their small campuses. Free expression of differing outlooks is part of what makes our nation great and leads to the enhanced creativity and entrepreneurship unique to our country.