Erika López Prater, the adjunct in art history who showed an image of Muhammad in class and then was not rehired by Hamline University, is suing the institution.
“What has not been discussed, however, is how Hamline’s actions and statements may have constituted religious discrimination, defamation, and other violations of law,” said a statement from the law firm that is representing her. “Hamline’s actions have caused significant damage to Dr. López Prater. In the near term, she has lost the income from her adjunct position. She alleges she also suffered significant emotional distress due to her mistreatment by Hamline. In the long term, Dr. López Prater alleges that her personal and professional reputation, and her future employment prospects, have been irreparably harmed by Hamline’s conduct.”
The law firm’s statement said López Prater would be suing Hamline for religious discrimination and defamation.
Hamline did not respond to a request for comment.
However, the president of Hamline, Fayneese Miller, and the chair of the Board of Trustees, Ellen Watters, released a joint statement Tuesday evening that said in part, “In the interest of hearing from and supporting our Muslim students, language was used that does not reflect our sentiments on academic freedom. Based on all that we have learned, we have determined that our usage of the term ‘Islamophobic’ was therefore flawed. We strongly support academic freedom for all members of the Hamline community. We also believe that academic freedom and support for students can and should co-exist. How this duality is exemplified on our campuses, especially in the current multicultural environment in which we live, is an exciting, robust, and honest conversation for academics, intellectuals, students, and the public to have.”