SJSU president responds to attack on hijab-wearing woman

A San Jose State University student whose hijab was pulled off in an attack at a campus parking garage Wednesday afternoon has led school officials to push for more conversations with the Muslim community and find ways to increase safety at the college.

University President Mary Papazian spoke with the 19-year-old victim who said a hijab, or headscarf, is an important part of her identity that should be worn in public, school spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris said.

The student was walking on the third floor of the West Garage at South Fourth and East San Salvador streets around 2:10 p.m. Wednesday, when the suspect came up from behind her and tugged down her head scarf, school officials said.

The suspect choked the victim, who lost her balance from the impact of the attack, then ran away, school officials said.

The suspect was described as a fair-skinned male who wore a dark-colored hoodie and khaki pants, according to school officials.

The victim was shaken up by the attack, but wasn’t injured and didn’t need medical attention, Harris said.

The university president was concerned that there wasn’t video security system available at the garage where the attack took place, according to Harris.

Papazian has talked to the school’s Muslim Student Association and chief diversity officer. She plans to continue those conversations in addition to exploring ways to provide educational opportunities on the Muslim community, according to Harris.

No arrests have been made as of this afternoon in the attack, which remains under investigation, Harris said.

University officials believe Wednesday’s incident was isolated, but are encouraging anyone who has experienced a similar attack to inform campus police.

Papazian discussed the case with reporters during a media briefing this afternoon when she stated that it’s early to say whether the case is a hate crime or reaction to the presidential election results, Harris said.

“We are, of course, very concerned that this has occurred on our campus,” university spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris said in a statement today.

“No one should experience this kind of behavior at San Jose State,” Harris said.

Hundreds of students have gathered on campus in reaction to Donald Trump winning the presidency since around 1 a.m. Wednesday, Harris said.

Posts on social media showed many students speaking out and chanting against Trump early Wednesday morning while gathered around the school’s statues of John Carlos and Tommie Smith.

They have also held open mic sessions to share their views and reflect, according to Harris.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call university police at (408) 924-2222. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call the department’s CrimeStoppers line at (408) 924-2236 or send an email to sjsu@tipnow.org.