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Muslim woman granted hijab accommodation to attend Norwich

By Staff Writer, For WCAX, On 31 May 2016, Read Original
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WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

NORTHFIELD, Vt. - A Muslim woman who persuaded Norwich University to change its uniform policy to accommodate her religious beliefs says she will attend the Northfield school.

17-year-old Sana Hamze says she'll soon call Vermont home.

"Yes I will be attending Norwich in the fall," said Hamze.

When she gets to the Northfield campus she'll be making history. The incoming cadet asked for a religious accommodation to wear a hijab allowing her to cover her head and neck as part of her Muslim faith.

Norwich granted that request. Hamze's first choice, South Carolina's military academy The Citadel, said no.

"Why is it causing a big uproar for a Muslim student who wants to wear a hijab to go to a military college when the military itself makes accommodations for it," said Hamze.

Norwich President Richard Schneider says the school made the right decision altering the dress code policy for cadets for the first time in 200 years.

"One of my responsibilities to our students is to prepare them for the future, whether they are going to be working to working for GE, WCAX or the U.S. Military," said Schneider.

When Schneider spoke with Channel 3 last week he said the decision was unanimous with his board of trustees but he acknowledges not everyone – including some in the University's alumni community – will agree with the move.

"Sometimes you can have different points of view about things, this is America, democracy is messy, and that is okay, we need to be talking with each other, we learn from each other when we do that," said Schneider.

As for Hamze, she says the accommodation will allow her to pursue her passion.

"Me trying to attend the Citadel and Norwich University wearing my hijab is simply because I want to be in the U.S. military. I want to serve this country," said Hamze.

Norwich will also allow Jewish cadets to wear the yarmulke with their uniforms.

WCAX reached out to the University now that Hamze says she's decided on Norwich. A University spokeswoman said the school declined to comment Monday because of the holiday weekend.

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