Noor Alhashim, a third-year in biology, opened her Snapchat on Tuesday to view her friend’s most recent Snapchat Stories. She saw a friend taking video of the banners set by the Office of Student Life in the Ohio Union lobby, where students were encouraged to share their thoughts about Monday’s campus attack. Alhashim decided she would make a pit stop on her way to class.
“I made sure to come here and take a look at it, and add something of my own,” she said.
Dave Isaacs, spokesman for the Office of Student Life, said the decision to place the banners and dry-erase markers in front of the Ohio Union Information Desk was a way for students to peacefully facilitate conversation.
“We feel it’s important for students to talk about their feelings and emotions,” Isaacs said.
Alhashim is of Palestinian descent and has been a U.S. resident her whole life. She practices Islam and wears a hijab — a head covering worn by some Muslim women.
Alhashim said that she was at a lecture in Smith Laboratory during the attack on Monday, during which a man drove into a crowd and sent 11 to the hospital, when a student came running into the building in a state of hysteria. For the next two hours, Alhashim said she huddled with her class in the basement of the building, shivering in fear, not knowing what was going to happen.
When she finally walked home, she didn’t feel like people were concerned for her well-being. Rather, she felt judged for what she was wearing. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the attacker who was shot dead by a University Police officer, was a Muslim from Somalia. Some in the Muslim community have expressed fear that those who share Artan’s religion or ethnic background will be viewed differently because of his actions.
Alhashim said that she felt sick so she stayed in her residence for the rest of the day. When she heard University President Michael V. Drake’s comments calling for solidarity and read all the positive messages on the banners in the Union that give support not only to the OSU community, but specifically to Muslim and Somali students, Alhashim said she felt encouraged that the campus would recover.
“(The messages are) definitely something everyone needs, and it shouldn’t be limited to this,” she said. “They just make your entire day, because you have other minorities and people of majorities telling you that they’re here for you. They’re not listening to any media talk or stereotypical talk … That’s very reassuring.”
Alhashim wrote a verse from the Quran on the banner reading, “Whoever kills a person unjustly, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves one person, it is as though he has saved all mankind.”
Mae Zulhaimi, a Muslim student and a first-year in chemistry, read a few messages on the banner as well. Being a foreign student from Malaysia who also wears a hijab, she said that she found the messages comforting, especially considering that she believed the attack could further Islamophobic sentiments on campus.
“I literally wear my religion on my physical appearance,” Zulhaimi said. “Before coming here, I did kind of have worries about (Islamophobia). But since coming here, I’ve never experienced backlash or anything like that.”
Alhashim said that although the banners show support, more needs to be done.
“There is no place for ignorance and, obviously, there is no place for it on this board, which is a mini representation of our community as a whole,” she said.