Professor Larycia Hawkins, a Christian Professor at Wheaton College, was suspended this week after wearing a hijab to show solidarity with Muslim Americans.
Wheaton College is a private Christian college based in Chicago. Professor Hawkins is a tenured political science professor.
As she posted on her Facebook page, Professor Hawkins wore the hijab to show she stands “in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book.”
“I don’t love my Muslim neighbor because s/he is American. I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity.”
Her actions originally showed positive results, with many students at the college spreading a message from campus student leaders that promoted love and solidarity with “Muslim brothers and sisters.”
However, Wheaton College administration did not agree and placed Hawkins on administrative leave.
A spokesperson for the college released the following statement:
“In response to significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements that Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Larycia Hawkins has made about the relationship of Christianity to Islam, Wheaton College has placed her on administrative leave, pending the full review to which she is entitled as a tenured faculty member.
Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion and theological clarity. As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the College’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”
The college maintains that it was due to her statements on Facebook, not her attire, that prompted them to suspend her.
Students at the college delivered a letter to Wheaton College President, Philip Ryken, demanding Professor Hawkins’ reinstatement. One part of the letter states:
“Dr. Hawkins has and continues to be an invaluable resource to the students of Wheaton College, particularly to those of color,” the letter said. “She is known for her sharp intelligence, her challenging intellect, and her ability to encourage those around her to live an incarnational faith.
“We believe there is nothing in Dr. Hawkins’ public statements that goes against the belief in the power and nature of God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit that the Statement of Faith deems as a necessary requirement for affiliation with Wheaton College.”
Professor Hawkin’s response to her suspension was the following: