Larycia Hawkins Update

In December of 2015, Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor, and the first tenured black female professor at Wheaton College, posted several controversial statements on Facebook relating Christianity to Islam. She also posted a photo of herself wearing a hijab. Both of these actions, especially the statements, were percieved by some Wheaton administrators to have violated Wheaton’s statement of faith, which caused Hawkins to be suspended. Hawkins was suspended while the college discussed whether she had broken the statement of faith and thereby made her own termination necessary.

On Feb. 10, 2016, a press conference was held to announce a final decision. Despite the fact that Wheaton’s provost withdrew his recommendation to revoke Hawkins’ tenure, Wheaton and Dr. Hawkins decided that they would “mutually part ways,” with Hawkins voluntarily resigning. As a response to this students started a protest. The students decided to start a 40 day fast that coincided with Lent, which was announced and started in front of the school at their schoolwide chapel session after the press conference.

Part of this mutual separation involved an agreement between Hawkins and Wheaton, which included two things: the launch of a new scholarship for a student to study peace and conflict, and the promise that Wheaton will invite a Muslim or Jewish scholar to campus every year to speak to faculty and students. Wheaton’s board of trustees has also said that they plan to review this case with their faculty in order to figure out how to be better prepared should a situation like this arise in the future.


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