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Professor Who Showed Painting of Muhammad Sues Hamline

January 18, 2023

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.”

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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