By Liam Adams ‘17, Madeline Linnell ‘17, Taylor Bradford ‘19, Shalom Maleachi ‘17 and Langdon Kessner ‘17
Margaret DeWeese-Boyd, a tenured associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Work, filed a complaint against Gordon College March 22 with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination alleging she recently was denied a promotion because of her advocacy on behalf of LGBT+ students.
DeWeese-Boyd argues that the Faculty Senate voted unanimously to support her promotion to Full Professor but that President D. Michael Lindsay and Provost Janel Curry denied her the promotion as retribution without legitimate grounds. DeWeese-Boyd is the second professor in two years to formally accuse the College of discrimination. The first was philosophy professor Lauren Barthold, who sued in 2016 and settled out of court.
College spokesman Rick Sweeney, asked Wednesday night about DeWeese-Boyd’s allegations, wrote in an email: “We vehemently disagree with the assertions in the complaint by Professor DeWeese-Boyd. Our practice is not to comment on personnel matters, but I can say the professor’s application for promotion was evaluated solely on its merits and was not influenced by any other matters. The College does not otherwise intend to comment publicly on this complaint and will respond to the allegations in the proper forum.”
DeWeese-Boyd stated in her complaint to Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) that she was vocal in her support for the LGBT+ community and publicly challenged the college’s prohibition against “homosexual practice,” according to her lawyer.
DeWeese-Boyd also said she co-hosted discussions among faculty to address topics of same-sex relationships and organized campus-wide events to advocated for LGBT+ students.
DeWeese-Boyd and her husband, Ian DeWeese-Boyd, signed a petition on Moveon.org to request Lindsay remove his signature from a July 1, 2014, Letter to President Obama requesting religious exemption from any forthcoming orders stemming from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). DeWeese-Boyd claims that the College denied her husband full professorship in 2015 because of his participation in the Moveon.org petition but was later granted the promotion.
“The denial of Professor (Margaret) DeWeese-Boyd’s promotion is a blatant attempt by the President and Provost to silence her advocacy on LGBTQ+ issues and to send a message to other members of the faculty that they will be punished for challenging Gordon College’s discriminatory policies,” DeWeese-Boyd’s attorney, Hillary Schwab of Fair Work P.C. , wrote in a news release issued Wednesday.
Fair Work P.C. states on its website that it is a Boston-based firm of “lawyers who are dedicated to advocating on behalf of employees.”
The College first received notice of DeWeese-Boyd’s complaint by the Salem News and Hamilton Chronicle Wednesday afternoon, Sweeney said.
Emiko Macaluso ‘19, Representative at Large of the College’s student government, said, “I am saddened that another professor has had to come up against the College in opposition, and I hope that we can reach greater understanding through this. I know that Dr. DeWeese-Boyd is an asset to campus and a wonderful professor and woman. And I am saddened that this has happened once again. I know that the admin. wants the best for the College, and everyone here wants human flourishing and the common good, but we all have different idea of that should work.”
Barthold filed a civil rights lawsuit against Lindsay and Curry April 2016. An American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLU) lawyer stated at the time: “Barthold was threatened with termination and later disciplined because she wrote a letter to a newspaper and was quoted in a newspaper article as a critic of the president’s action.”
“Although the administration backed down from the threat to terminate Professor Barthold after receiving a warning letter from one of her attorneys, they subsequently imposed discipline on her–removing her from faculty leadership positions, denying her the scheduled right to apply for a promotion, and removing her from serving as director of the gender studies minor.”
Barthold is no longer an employee at the College.
Like Barthold, DeWeese-Boyd claims her application to be promoted to full professor was denied due to her advocacy of LGBTQ+ rights. DeWeese-Boyd alleges that Lindsay and Curry disciplined her to a greater extent than her male colleagues, who were equally as vocal–also similar to Barthold’s complaint.
Brian Imke ‘16 considers himself to be a close friend of DeWeese-Boyd’s and said, “Everything she did showed that one, she loved Jesus, and two, she loved the College.”
Imke continued: “The number one thing that I want to make sure is that Margie is doing the thing that’s right for her first, and the thing that helps her feel the most integrity and strength, and makes it so that she has all the happiness that she deserves.”