University threatened with severe action for punishing professor

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A Minnesota school that fired a professor for showing a historic painting of Muhammad during a class, drawing a complaint from a Muslim student, now could lose its accreditation for failing to protect the professor’s rights.

The Daily Mail reported that could be the result of a formal complaint filed against Hamline University.

A complaint has been registered with the Higher Learning Commission accusing the college of “failing” Erika Lopez Prater, the teacher.

The ACLU, also, has accused the school of “punishing educators” who use controversial material.

The report said Prater used an image of a 14th-century painting in her class, and Aram Wedatalla, a Muslim student, complained that it violated her religion.

She had been warned that the image would be used ahead of time.

The ACLU said, “Universities can and should regulate professional standards – but punishing educators for presenting controversial material harms academic freedom.”

The complaint with the Higher Learning Commission came from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

It charged the school’s actions, in light of its public commitments to free expression and academic freedom, were wrong.

“If Hamline won’t listen to free speech advocates or faculty across the country, they’ll have to listen to their accreditor,” the FIRE said.

The report noted, “The Higher Learning Commission’s mandate requires accredited institutions to provide academic freedom – something they say the University has not done.”

Some 8,000 people have signed a petition in support of the professor.

University President Fayneese Miller said not offending Muslim students outrank academic freedom, and apologized for the use of the painting.

 

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