Professor Larycia Hawkins announced her effort to combat Islamophobia by wearing a hijab through the Christmas season in a lengthy Dec. 10 Facebook post, in which she wrote that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.”
On Tuesday, she was placed on administrative leave by the private evangelical college. Hawkins is the only tenured black female professor at the school.
In response, dozens of students gathered outside Wheaton president Philip Ryken’s office on Wednesday to voice their opposition and present a petition calling for Hawkins’ immediate reinstatement, according to USA Today. The petition was also posted on Change.org, where it had garnered over 1,900 signatures by Thursday afternoon.
“In the midst of a toxic socio-political environment where Muslims are the target of stigmatization, acts of aggression, and proposed policy which targets and alienates them, Dr. Hawkins acted in love and in solidarity to be an example of how Christ would respond,” the statement read in part.
Hawkins did not immediately respond to TPM's request for comment.
Wheaton officials have insisted that their problem with the professor's campaign is purely theological and unrelated to her choice to wear a hijab.
As Ryken told NBC Wednesday, the school has "no stated position on the wearing of headscarves as a gesture of care and concern for those in Muslim or other religious communities that may face discrimination or persecution.”