Summary of the Hawkins case (updated)

We compiled a timeline of all the past events concerning the controversial professor. Click through to see the events as reported by The Record. 

On Dec. 10, Hawkins posted a controversial theological statement on Facebook that outlined her intent to wear a hijab, the head covering worn by some Muslim women. She would wear the hijab during the traditional season of Advent, a preparation before Christmas. Hawkins intended for the hijab to show solidarity with Muslims in the wake of anti-Muslim rhetoric following the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

In her post, she wrote, “I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity.” In the same post, she included, “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

It was the second part of her post, about Muslims and Christians worshiping the same God, that the college administration said they took issue with, in a media statement.

In the days after her posts, college administration approached Hawkins through another faculty member to inquire about her theological views. At a meeting the following Tuesday, Provost Stanton Jones met with Hawkins to discuss her comments.

At the meeting, Jones presented Hawkins with questions regarding the theological implications of her posts and required her to submit a written response to the questions. He also notified Hawkins that she was being placed on paid administrative leave. According to Wheaton administration, paid leave would allow for the time needed to fully evaluate her public statements.

When news about Hawkins’ suspension spread on Dec. 16, students organized a sit-in for the following day at the president’s office in Blanchard Hall. Some drafted a statement outlining demands, including Hawkins’ reinstatement. Around 100 students attended the protest and sit-in.

After talking with Jones and President Philip Ryken, a small group of students announced that the college was unwilling to reinstate Hawkins before Christmas break.

During the break, conversations paused after Jones requested further clarification from Hawkins in addition to the written statement she had been required to submit previously. At this time, Hawkins chose not to engage in more discussion about her theology.

Around the time of this break in conversation, Jones extended new employment terms to Hawkins. According to some news sources, these included an option for her to return to classes in the spring semester under the condition that her tenure be revoked for two years while she continues to clarify her theological views.

Hawkins refused the new terms of employment, leading to an “impasse” that the administration viewed as a refusal to continue conversations about reinstatement.

On Jan. 4, Jones informed Hawkins that the school was initiating the process of termination.

At the start of the spring semester on Jan. 11, another formal protest took place outside of Edman Chapel during the chapel service. The protest, according to the organizers, was dedicated to lamenting the situation and praying for reconciliation. Students also began organizing “teach-ins” during which faculty members speak about Hawkins’ situation in an educational context. These teach-ins are open to members of the Wheaton campus community.

The hearing before the Faculty Personnel Committee never happened. In short, Jones apologized for the termination recommendation and withdrew it, and Hawkins and Wheaton came to a ‘mutual agreement’ to part ways. 

Hawkins is now at the University of Virginia.

This post has been updated. 

3 Responses to Summary of the Hawkins case (updated)

  1. Apart from solidarity, what’s the view of the protesting faculty on the assertion “Christians and Muslims worship the same God”?

  2. Thank you for this summary which was very helpful to bring together the collection of events I’ve been engaged with individually. I feel very sad Wheaton has allowed this loss of a professor I would love to have had– so obviously knowledgeable, intelligent, articulate, and deeply devoted to her students and to following Jesus. Current students deserve better, as do we alumni who have to date proudly identified with our alma mater.

  3. Pingback: Pennies from heaven - The Wheaton Record

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