All seven members of the faculty Senate at Gordon College resigned last week in a show of solidarity with a professor who claims she was denied a promotion because she’d spoken out against the Christian school’s anti-LGBT views.
The demonstration is just the latest moment of tension between faculty and administration at the school in Wenham, Massachusetts, which forbids students, professors and staff from engaging in “homosexual practice” on or off campus.
In a complaint filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, assistant professor of sociology Margaret DeWeese-Boyd asserts that the college president refused to give her a promotion to full professor because she’s openly criticized the school’s ban on “homosexual practice” since 2013.
The educator writes that she has spoken against the stance at a faculty meeting, signed a petition opposing it, organized trainings related to LGBT rights and directly addressed college president D. Michael Lindsay about it.
According to the complaint, DeWeese-Boyd was denied her promotion in February, against the unanimous recommendation of the faculty Senate.
In response, the members of the Senate announced Wednesday that they would be resigning from their positions.
Without directly mentioning DeWeese-Boyd, the faculty members said they were walking out because of the president’s refusal to follow their recommendations for promotions.
“For the Senate to take such strong action to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the way the president and provost are acting is very unusual,” DeWeese-Boyd’s lawyer Hillary Schwab told the Boston Globe. “It’s my understanding the faculty responded to the resignations with sustained applause.”
Rick Sweeney, a college spokesperson, said that Gordon’s provost, Janel Curry, addressed the resignations at the meeting.
“While this was a surprise, Dr. Curry offered a brief response at the meeting thanking them for their service [their work had concluded for the semester] and confirming that both she and the college leadership have a very different interpretation of the situation and that they should allow time to explore how to bridge the gap in perspectives,” Sweeney said in a statement.
Sweeney went on to say that the college has “strong and pointed disagreement” with the allegations made in the assistant professor’s complaint, but will not comment further because the school doesn’t discuss “personnel issues.”
Gordon College stepped into the national spotlight in 2014 when its leaders asked President Obama for an exemption from a planned executive order banning discrimination in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation.
At the time, the administration argued the ban would “come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity, and religious freedom.”
Many faculty, students and alumni denounced the request, circulating an online petition that garnered thousands of signatures.
Last year, the Christian college retaliated against Lauren Barthold, a philosophy professor, after she wrote a letter to the Salem News and was quoted in the Globe criticizing Lindsay’s request to Obama.
Barthold alleged that, after threatening to fire her, the college denied her right to apply for a promotion and removed her as the director of the gender studies program.
She later agreed to resign from her position.