In the Jan. 14 issue of The Wheaton Record, the first issue of 2016, the editor of The Record, assisted by an ad hoc editorial news team wrote an open letter to the student body addressing the most recent events concerning associate professor of political science Larycia Hawkins. The ad hoc editorial board consisted of Giovanna Albanese, Austin Chu, Andrew Graber, Seth Humeniuk, Philip Kline, Max Planamenta, Kelsey Plankeel and Lucy Rose Till. The absence of Record editors’ and staff’s names not included in the ad hoc editorial board does not imply their agreement or disagreement with the content of the letter.
As a public service, we have included the content of the open letter below, which appeared in the news section of The Record.
At The Wheaton Record, we have the privilege of periodically writing editorial comments in response to events as warranted. The recent events concerning Larycia Hawkins were more than enough reason for the editors of The Record to come together and talk, as we have for the past few days, about what we think an appropriate response to this issue would be.
The members of the Record staff — there are about 30 of us — bring many, many different perspectives to the table. That’s because this is not about being “pro-Hawkins” or “pro-administration.” That’s a false dichotomy. The number of “it’s complicated” answers we have heard outnumbers anything that would seem like a hard yes or no. The campus seems divided on the issue — maybe not evenly, but divided nonetheless.
Despite our varied perspectives, we have agreed on this: The way that our campus has allowed itself to become divided on this issue has misrepresented Christ and made Christians appear less loving and more hostile. This distresses us. As we’ve become more polarized on the issue, we’ve started to look less like followers of Christ because Christ taught us to live together in peace. We can have different opinions, but we all are still followers of Christ and must stand together in love, despite our differences of opinion. As Jesus told us, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” For that reason, we should work to repair damage that has already been done and try to minimize the negative consequences that the aftermath of this situation may bring.
It is unacceptable for cyber attackers to create a fake website to mock Hawkins, deride Muslims in our town and even target Wheaton professors and their children. It is unacceptable to slam a door into a fellow student’s face for wearing the same head garb that Hawkins did. It is unacceptable to send messages motivated by hate to people who are involved — and even those not involved, such as another college in Massachusetts. As an institution of higher learning, we should encourage dialogue, not act violently or in ways that incite fear.
We think that mistakes have been made on all sides so that no group can say that they are blameless. Perhaps Hawkins should have continued the conversation with the administration after rejecting the new employment terms. Perhaps Wheaton’s administration should have let the current Islamophobic climate in America weigh more heavily into their decisions.
Whatever the case, for the sake of bringing a divided school together again, and for the sake of bringing an end to this tumultuous season, the dialogue must continue. Hawkins and the Wheaton administration are mutually responsible for the cessation of dialogue, and they need to see eye-to-eye on that issue to reopen their discussion.
The way that all sides handle this situation will set important precedents that we cannot ignore. The faculty, Hawkins and the administration need our prayers. Considering the administration’s upcoming decision, we exhort both sides to approach each other with respect, to dialogue with honesty and to work together to repair the fractures in our community.
To send responses to this letter, write a 300-word letter to the editor or submit a Voices (opinion) piece to firstname.lastname@example.org to be published in our Voices section.