Christian College Moves To Terminate Professor Over Muslim Solidarity Gesture

Larycia Hawkins Wheaton professor
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January 5, 2016 4:57 p.m.

An Illinois evangelical college that suspended a tenured professor after she launched a Muslim solidarity campaign has moved to initiate termination proceedings.

Arise Chicago, a faith-based advocacy group that has represented Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins throughout her suspension, released a statement Tuesday announcing that the school’s provost notified Hawkins that termination of tenure and employment are underway.

Wheaton Director of Media Relations LaTonya Taylor confirmed in a statement to TPM that Hawkins had been delivered a notice of recommendation to initiate termination proceedings.

Arise Chicago’s statement alleges that Hawkins’ firing is directly related to a December announcement she made on Facebook, in which she vowed to wear a hijab throughout the Christmas season as a gesture of solidarity with Muslims. Hawkins wrote in the post that Muslims “worship the same God” as Christians.

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Hawkins was suspended by the small, private college soon after publishing the statement. At the time, Wheaton administrators issued a statement saying that the “theological implications” of her comments would need to be reviewed before her suspension was reconsidered.

After students and online supporters pushed for her reinstatement, the college offered Hawkins the possibility to return to her position as a political science professor on the condition that her tenure be revoked for at least two years. She refused.

Wheaton confirmed in its statement that Hawkins then received a notification from provost Stanton Jones on Monday announcing that termination-for-cause proceedings had begun. The school said Hawkins’ case will be heard before a committee of nine tenured faculty members, considered by President Philip Ryken and ultimately decided upon by Wheaton’s board of trustees.

According to Arise Chicago, Jones’ notice stated that he sought Hawkins’ termination on the basis of an “unqualified assertion of religious solidarity with Muslims and Jews.”

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