Social experiment at Fresno State offers students insight into how Muslim classmates are seen by others

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The experience was merely a snapshot in the day in the life of a Muslim student.

"Diversity, distinction, discovery-- that's part of Fresno State's motto. So if I can participate in this and help get a message out or help with the social experiment why not," said Eric Inzunza, communication major.

In this case, the Fresno State students putting on the traditional Hijab, or scarf and the Kufi, or cap, were not Muslims but students of different faiths.

"Really wanted to experience it, what other people go through to see if there is discrimination on our campus. I think I'd be really surprised if there is because this is a very diverse campus," said Julio Lopez, communications major.

The event was put on by the Muslim Student Association. They wanted to share their culture as well as their experiences.

"And maybe they feel a little more in tune to our issues and the things that we're having to deal with, especially with a lot of the terrorism that has been happening this year. That has spread a lot of discrimination and harassment to our communities," said Thalia Arenas, Muslim Student Association.

The Hijabs and Kufis were all donated by community members.

The booth drew dozens of onlookers as well as students excited to wear the traditional items.

"Maybe bring some awareness to some of the issues that we can find some prejudices and awareness in. So I wanted to try to do it so I can learn about my own biases and check myself," said Brittany Loera, sociology major.

"I actually took a couple of classes in Arabic before and they told us about Hijabs and all that and I feel like there's a big stereotype out there," said Adam Swan, Fresno State senior.

Some of the students will write a paper about what they experienced.

Ken Herman replaced his cap with a Kufi and didn't expect people to have a negative reaction.

"Not too much different than letting my hair out when it's long. I let it fly out. I actually get quite a bit of discrimination because of that."

Many of the students posted pictures using the hashtag #FSHijabChallenge.
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