Students give perspective on clothing, spirituality

Campus minister Josh Stutzman poses in the University Christian Center wearing their shirt design of the year on November 7, 2023
Campus minister Josh Stutzman poses in the University Christian Center wearing their shirt design of the year on November 7, 2023
Taylor Cockrell

Take a walk through campus and you will take part in the expression of a variety of experiences, cultures and communities that all come together to make up campus life. 

The collective spiritual practice of the student body overflows into the way students represent themselves in the way they dress as they come to a deeper understanding of the world they live in. 

As students actively use the way they dress to show their spirituality, their stories bring to life the exploration of faith that takes place at Oregon State University.


A Hellenic Polytheist Sophia Gilbert-Smith uses jewelry and tattoos to feel connected to her spirituality. 

They wear an amethyst necklace devoted to Aphrodite and Hermes to give them “self confidence and sharpened awareness.”

“I have a piece of obsidian that I sometimes carry with me, devoted to Erebus, that offers general protection … I’d say a fair number of us (use jewelry), it is a simple and subtle way to honor a specific deity,” Gilbert-Smith said. 


For horticulture student Mira Wichelmann, the spiritual practice of Animism has allowed for them to foster a greater relationship with nature.

“I knew I felt a deep connection to nature as most people do. I felt like there was something more there than a scientific appreciation,” Wichelmann said.

Wichelmann and others found community in the Pagan Student Association at OSU. Despite any differences in spiritual practices, the club comes together to celebrate and include all Pagan spiritualities. 

“Being connected to Animism and the spirit of all things, it decentralizes you from a harmful binary that serves to keep you restricted … being intersex and genderfluid, I have entirely rejected the gender binary that a lot of religions and spiritualities will tie into,” Wichelmann said.

On Wichelmanns’s neck hung a vial of ocean water on a cord that they collected from the Pacific Ocean. 

“I take a lot of strength and stability from (the ocean), its ability to continue to change, it’s never constant, it’s always moving, so I keep that with me when I need to feel a certain sense of stability,” Wichelmann said.


Jordan Lopez, who identifies as a Jewish woman has used spiritual clothing to stay connected to her community at home, in California.

Lopez wears a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, when in synagogue.

“Mostly, they’re worn in my synagogue on Saturday morning services, as opposed to Friday night services,” Lopez said. “Some older folk wear their tallit at both. Most Jews have a few different ones, and I know there’s a huge market in custom designs for artists. Trees and pomegranates are very common designs.”

Lopez explained that it is also common to see yarmulkes on everyone while in the temple. Additionally, her synagogue allows for more casual dressing like wearing jeans. 


Fatima Rashid, a biology pre-med major, and president of Muslim Student Association at OSU wears hijab as a part of her expression of faith.

“In Islam we have hijab, the official meaning is to hide or to cover,” Rashid said.

Pushing back against common stereotypes, Rashid explained that hijab is something that includes all genders, not just women.

“How I express my hijab style is I like to use different colors and long dresses,” Rashid said. “I think it is important to be able to showcase your own sense of fashion through something that many people may have negative perceptions about … There are different ways to cover yourself and make it fun as well.”

Rashid started wearing hijab when she turned 13, and was brought further into community with her family.

“Being surrounded by other Muslim women encouraged me to wear (hijab) and be proud of it … It is a powerful and life changing decision to wear hijab, there are many aspects that are included in wearing hijab”.

Rashid and the MSA are putting on an educational event in the winter to bring further education and awareness to the greater Oregon State community.

“There is this event called World Hijab day on Feb. 1 … (The MSA) are planning on having an event on campus for people to ask questions and also try on hijab,” she said.


Vincent Vanzuylen, a Catholic student and member of the Newman Center for Catholic Campus Ministry uses his clothing to give reverence in multiple ways.

“From a Catholic viewpoint, we use clothing to better represent ourselves, especially in the faith, (it) is all geared towards reverence towards God in his essence. That can take on many forms, it can also take into account all of the differences in culture,” Vanzulyen said.

In addition to his “Sunday Best,” Vanzuylen wears a blue cord necklace, with a pendant that has great significance to him.

“This blue scapular (I’m wearing) is a very common Catholic item,” Vanzulyen said. “It was given to a religious sister .. she had a vision from the Blessed Mother, (Mary) … Mary told her that if she wore the scapular and you said a certain prayer every night that you would have the ability to be saved from the fires of Hell.”


Vanzuylen explained that blue has a direct relationship with Mary in the Catholic faith for many reasons, most notably as Mary is often referenced as the star of the sea.

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