Hamline College Professor Fired for “Islamophobia” Was Unjustly Vilified, Report Says
Hamline College, a small liberal arts school in Minnesota, made headlines earlier this 12 months after failing to resume the contract of adjunct professor Erika López Prater, who confirmed figurative renditions of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad to her Artwork Historical past college students. This month, the American Affiliation of College Professors (AAUP), a nonprofit membership group centered on advancing and defending tutorial freedom, revealed a damning report concluding that the college mishandled the incident and led a “de facto marketing campaign of vilification” towards López Prater that represented “an assault on basic rules of educational freedom.” López Prater subsequently sued the establishment, in search of damages because of “lack of revenue, psychological anguish, emotional misery, [and] lack of popularity.”
“The implications for educational freedom in artwork and artwork historical past of the occasions recounted on this report are clear,” reads the AAUP’s report. “If a Muslim scholar can stop the show of a picture of the Prophet Muhammad, why can not an evangelical Christian scholar search to censor a piece just like the controversial Piss Christ by Andres Serrano or a religious Hindu scholar object to finding out the work of Indian artist M. F. Husain? However artwork historical past is just not the one discipline of research probably in danger.”
Final October, López Prater issued a two-minute content material warning throughout a digital session of her World Artwork course earlier than displaying two examples of Medieval Islamic artwork together with figurative depictions of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, that are prohibited by some Muslim sects. López Prater had notified her college students by way of the course syllabus that this content material can be coated in the course of the course and inspired anybody who was uncomfortable with this subject material to exit the digital classroom or flip off the video element. After she confirmed the photographs, Hamline College senior and Muslim Pupil Affiliation president Aram Wedatalla stated she was offended and confronted the professor earlier than elevating the difficulty with the college’s administration.
The AAUP report, revealed Could 22, notes that López Prater’s course syllabus was reviewed and accepted by the college prematurely of the incident with no requested alterations. After Wedatalla rose the difficulty with administration, López Prater was inspired to difficulty an apology to the coed and the remainder of the category. On October 24, regardless of López Prater’s apology, Baker rescinded the supply to resume the adjunct professor’s contract for the spring course by way of e-mail with out additional element and didn’t reply to López Prater’s inquiry on whether or not the choice was associated to Wedatalla’s criticism and escalation.
In early November, Hamline College’s vice chairman of inclusive excellence David Everett issued a campus-wide e-mail describing López Prater’s habits as “undeniably thoughtless, disrespectful, and Islamophobic” and later gave an interview with the campus’s scholar newspaper, the Oracle, confirming that López Prater’s dismissal from the Hamline school was immediately linked to the incident in her class. A report on the incident within the Oracle a month later included a quote from Patti Kersten, the college’s dean of scholars, describing López Prater’s resolution to show the photographs as “an act of intolerance.” The AAUP report states that neither Everett nor Kersten had ever communicated with López Prater concerning the course or the incident.
By mid-January, college president Miller issued an announcement reneging on Everett’s use of the phrase “Islamophobic” to explain the incident however maintained that tutorial freedom shouldn’t be used as an excuse to hurt college students and minorities at Hamline.
The AAUP report authors reject Hamline’s perspective on this level. “Pupil rights coexist with the proper — certainly, the duty — of school members to show in line with the scholarly and pedagogical requirements of their respective disciplines,” they write. “Therefore, the committee rejects claims made at Hamline and elsewhere that assist for educational freedom should essentially battle with efforts to welcome and nurture a various scholar physique.”
In response to the AAUP’s conclusions, Hamline College issued an announcement alleging that the report “stays suffering from factual inaccuracies and innuendo, and its principal conclusions stay unsupported.”
“A report which says in so many phrases that its investigators lacked proof of adversarial exercise on the a part of Hamline College however goes on to claim it anyway is irresponsible, unbecoming of the traditions of the liberal arts, and is worthy of dismissal on its face,” the assertion reads.
AAUP has not but responded to Hyperallergic’s request for remark.
AAUP additionally famous that the incident would have possible been dealt with in another way had López Prater been a full-time tenured school member fairly than an adjunct. Not like tenured school, adjunct professors carry out their duties by way of short-term contracts with no assure for renewal and are afforded fewer protections in regard to tutorial freedom. Thus, faculties and universities reserve the proper to dismiss adjuncts or not renew their contracts for sophistication conduct with out it being thought of retaliation because of the short-term employment settlement.
“It’s troublesome to think about that the occasions reported right here would have transpired as they did if a full-time member of the Hamline school had displayed the photographs in query,” the AAUP wrote. “That is hardly an issue unique to Hamline. The perils related to rising reliance on part-time and non permanent instructors, and the results for educational freedom, have been properly documented … The occasions recounted on this report present one more warning of the risks of such reliance.”