Kristin Naca, a former professor in the English department, has sued Macalester College for “discriminatory and retaliatory termination.” According to her lawsuit filed on October 9, the College revoked her employment due to “her systemic Valley Fever, her sincere practice of the religion of Santería, sex, sexual orientation, and her Filipina and Puerto Rican ancestry and national origin.” Naca, who joined Macalester in 2008, was fired in September 2015.
According to Naca’s lawsuit, Director of Employment Bob Graf identified the reason for her termination as “failing to maintain ethical boundaries with a student” at a February 2016 hearing before a Minnesota state unemployment judge.
Graf and other college administrators alleged that Naca engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a student, referred to as “Jane Doe” in the suit.
Naca’s lawsuit claims she did not violate college policy because Jane Doe was an alumna at the time of their “brief, consensual” relationship, and that no policy forbids relationships between faculty and alumni. According to the lawsuit, the judge who presided over the February hearing agreed that no such policy exists and awarded Naca unemployment benefits.
College administrators have maintained that Naca’s termination was a lawful and legitimate response to violations of college policy.
“Kristin Naca’s employment at Macalester was terminated as the result of a serious violation of the college’s policies relating to Title IX protections, following a complaint about her conduct with a student,” Macalester President Brian Rosenberg said in a statement to The Mac Weekly. “Unfortunately, Naca’s response to these findings… has been to attack, intimidate and retaliate against the survivor who brought forward the complaint.”
While Rosenberg did not specify which policies Naca violated, the lawsuit claims Macalester “fabricated a sexual assault charge to mask discrimination.”
The lawsuit references a Macalester College Harassment Committee (MCHC) finding that “current policy does not address faculty relationships with alumni… nor does it outline parameters to consider when entering romantic relationships with alumni.”
The MCHC interviews with Jane Doe also found “no evidence of overt threat or coercion to be in a relationship,” and confirms that the romantic relationship between Naca and Jane Doe began after Jane Doe’s graduation.
While the legal proceedings will continue in the coming months, Naca’s legal team has released a statement to the press, reasserting her claim that Macalester has “abused Title IX for the purpose of discrimination and retaliation.”
In an interview with The Mac Weekly, Naca called her termination a “clear violation of [her] due process rights and a blatant act of discrimination made under false pretenses.”
“I look forward to settling this matter in a public fashion,” she added.
Naca is seeking $2.4 million in compensation from the college for a “lifetime of lost tenured faculty status in academia, inclusive of health, pension, and other benefits,” according to the lawsuit.
In the administration’s statement to The Mac Weekly, the school “condemn[s] Naca’s ongoing actions in the strongest possible terms and intend[s] to vigorously defend against her claims in court.”
Macalester’s response to the lawsuit was originally due October 28, but the judge approved an extension until Thursday, December 8. [Editor’s note: The Mac Weekly goes to print Wednesday nights].
The Mac Weekly will continue to report on this story as documents become public and the suit progresses.