When I decided to attend Wheaton College two years ago, I was expecting a haven of like-minded young Christian scholars.
But it turns out—while Wheaton is a special and loved place—it still has a lot in common with just about any other community: We disagree on things.
Outsiders may assume all students, faculty, administrators and alumnae are in agreement about Dr. Larycia Hawkins’ recent suspension—the way I assumed everyone at Liberty University agreed with the horrifying comments made by President Jerry Falwell Jr. earlier this month.
But in actuality, our campus remains divided on a complex issue:
Did the school take fair and logical steps in response to Dr. Hawkins’ “same God” statement?
Was the school already looking for a reason to fire a boundary-pushing tenured professor?
Could it be that she is being treated differently as a woman of color (the only tenured woman of color) than if she were, say, one of the many seemingly untouchable white male professors?
Was it just to appease more conservative donors, trustees or board members?
I think her hasty suspension was a misstep we cannot afford as already growing tensions widen the gap between Christians and Muslims, between “Americans” and everyone else. This unnecessary and insensitive escalation is feeding a fire many in the Wheaton community and larger Christian community resent, and one that is tragically hurting American Muslims.
— Christine Folch (@christinefolch) December 16, 2015
Many of my peers have impressed me over the past few days.
I have witnessed prayer, courageous words and thoughtful actions like the #ReinstateDocHawk petition that’s almost at its goal of 15,000 signatures.
I participated in a student-led sit-in at President Philip Ryken’s office where we broke into the final verse of “O Holy Night,” a Christmas carol that has never resonated more:
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
The college’s decision whether or not to reinstate her will speak loudly—so every chance I get, I’m just going to keep repeating this message to those that have been and continue to be hurt by my Christian brothers and sisters: I love you, and I pray for your physical and emotional safety, and I am not alone in doing so.
I hope that as our nation responds to the unfolding events at our college, they don’t forget that the Wheaton administration does not speak for the entire Wheaton community.