By: Emma Parker

Students at American University are attempting to cancel one of their peers after she published “How Can You Be a Feminist and Muslim?: Confronting Multiple Identities“ accusing sophomore Marisa Sette of having a “white savior complex,” and having “gaslighted” and “fetishized” black and brown students.

The case study was published in the School of International Service’s (SIS) Case Studies in Intercultural Communication. An academic case study is a research project in which students dive into a subject area to show their knowledge of the topic. The goal is to provide students, alumni, and faculty a set of examples of how to effectively communicate in intercultural scenarios. To do this, students create fictional scenarios and characters to engage in an intercultural dialogue.

The purpose of Sette’s study, in particular, was to venture into a life of competing identities, in this case: being both Muslim and a Feminist, like Sadaf, the focus of the piece. However, fellow classmates saw the article as being Islamophobic and hateful.

Soon after the case study’s publication, a student-led petition pushed to have her work removed. The petition has now racked up over 1,100 signatures and features many hateful comments from the AU community.

It is important to note that because the published work is a case study, it does not contain the opinions of the author and is simply meant to prompt discussion on the nuanced subject. Nonetheless, students are attacking the sophomore for publishing a piece on the perceptions of a feminist Muslim, claiming Islamophobia.

Some students argued that Sette is a “continuously prejudiced individual,” who writes “racist” publications,” and some even went as far as to call her a “white supremacist.”

Through her case study, Sette was provoking conversation regarding intersections between various identities. As her published work discusses, feminism and Islam are often seen as opposing identities. Sette’s work did not have a distinct opinion on the subject, instead it simply explored the extent to which certain identities can exist in harmony with others.

Students at the university were outraged at the very idea that anyone might question the ability to combine the Islam and feminism, which espouse very different beliefs. Sette’s case study should not be removed as it clearly served its purpose by sparking intellectual debate on campus—something severely lacking in higher education today.

Emma Parker is a National Journalism Center summer intern and a student at Christopher Newport University.