Support Naca, Save Mac
This petition had 576 supporters
We, the undersigned students, alumni, faculty, staff of Macalester College and concerned community members, petition the Macalester Board of Trustees, President Brian Rosenberg, and Provost Karine Moe to reinstate Dr. Kristin Naca as Assistant Professor of English, grant Dr. Naca tenure, pay back lost wages, and make a public apology for the false accusations made against Dr. Naca.
Dr. Naca was terminated from her position of Assistant Professor of English on September 29th, 2015 before she was allowed to go up for tenure review. We believe Dr. Naca was denied a fair tenure review process and terminated on false claims based on her medical disability, and her racial, sexual, and religious identities.
Dr. Kristin Naca is a multilingual, multicultural poet, nonfiction writer, and scholar who served as a Consortium on Faculty Diversity (CFD) Fellow and an Assistant Professor of English at Macalester College starting in 2008. In that time, Dr. Naca won the 2008 National Poetry Series mtvU Prize, selected by Yusef Komunyakaa (winner of the Pulitzer Prize) and published her collection of English and Spanish poetry, Bird Eating Bird, with HarperPerennial.
Dr. Naca’s teaching and writing represented Macalester’s core ideals of transformational scholarship and commitment to multiculturalism. Dr. Naca is an acclaimed queer Puerto Rican and Filipina poet who has been suffering from Valley Fever since 2012. Dr. Naca requested medical accommodations from the College and was denied over and over. In 2014, Dr. Naca was initiated as a priest in Santería. Dr. Naca was also entering tenure review during this time.
In the fall of 2015, College officials used false harassment allegations as a pretext to terminate Dr. Naca. The false allegations were made by an alumna who, while working for the College, harassed and threatened Naca to continue in a romantic relationship, and finally carried out her threat when she learned Naca was undergoing tenure review. An unemployment judge ruled that there was no basis in the college’s policies for termination, and that “Naca was discharged for reasons other than employment misconduct.”
As Assistant Professor, Dr. Naca taught challenging, interdisciplinary, and cross-genre courses in creative writing and literature. She developed curriculum that made tremendous impact on Mac’s literary and campus cultures. In her courses, including but not limited to “American Voices: Chicano/a Literature,” “Latino/a Poetics,” “Asian American Poetics,” she highlighted work by writers of color, emphasizing their unique contributions to the U.S. literary landscape, fulfilling Macalester’s requirements and commitment to multiculturalism in the classroom. Dr. Naca also encouraged and fostered writing by students who gravitated to Spanish language texts and translations in literature courses, and guided students’ Spanish/English creative writing. She brought a true bilingualism (across disciplines and genres) to campus, a talent that can only be found at the few universities who have a bilingual creative writing program.
Dr. Naca bolstered Macalester’s English Department by making it more culturally relevant and responsive to campus, local, and national communities. She was responsible for making Macalester a stop for “Latino Poetry Now” -- alongside Harvard University, Georgetown University, Boston University, and the Universities of Arizona and Notre Dame -- a groundbreaking initiative co-sponsored by Poetry Society of America and Letras Latinas, that introduced established, emerging, and local Latina/o poets to readers in academia and in communities. She brought Toi Derricotte, Rigoberto González, Randall Mann, Francisco Aragón, Natalie Díaz, Daisy Hernández, and Lorena Duarte to Macalester’s campus and classrooms.
She is also incredibly dedicated to her students. She gives constructive feedback on student work, empowers students to workshop each other’s writing – a necessary (and rare) skill in the literary world, and encourages them to work as teaching assistants (preceptors). She mentored many students, serving as academic advisor and thesis advisor to several English majors and supporting students from other departments, guiding them in their academic and creative endeavors. She maintains genuine friendships with, and mentors, many alumni long after graduation. She has guided many former students into careers as award-winning poets, creative nonfiction and fiction writers, scholars, and careers dedicated to social justice, internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.
In addition to teaching, Dr. Naca’s accomplishments and service to the community include her work as a Fellow and Instructor at the Macondo Writer’s Workshop, Poetry Mentor through The Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series, Writer in Residence with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, and is a current McKnight Foundation Fellow in Poetry.
Macalester promotes its liberal values and tradition. It prides itself on its commitment to multiculturalism. In 2003, the college established the American Studies Department, which “serves as the academic focal point for the study of race and ethnicity in a national and transnational frame,” and the Department of Multicultural Life whose mission is to provide transformative leadership in creating a Macalester community that is equitable, inclusive, and socially just for everyone.” In the Diversity section of the 2014 Strategic Plan, the college acknowledged that “institutions thrive when they are acting in ways consistent with their mission, and our mission identifies multiculturalism as a core component. In the years ahead, we need to take some new and concrete steps in order to reach our diversity goals.”
The reality is, while Macalester has named some workable areas, and listed a few vague goals, we aren’t off to a great start in in regards to maintaining and supporting faculty diversity after hire. In 2015, the two professors who did not reach or receive tenure are people of color; the three who did are white. In the last seven years, Macalester has shuffled through more professors in American Studies than they have retained, in large part due to a lack of institutional support for faculty in academic departments that prioritize the study of multiculturalism. Dr. Naca’s English courses were frequently cross-listed with American Studies and Latin American Studies and catered to students from Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, all departments which primarily offer courses fulfilling the college’s multiculturalism curricular requirement for students.
Because a high number of Dr. Naca’s courses fulfilled both the multiculturalism and writing requirement, students from academic departments across campus -- especially from math, the sciences and social sciences -- lined up for seats in Dr. Naca’s classroom, thus bringing more students into conversations and study of diversity around race, gender, sexuality, immigration, and religion. Dr. Naca is precisely the type of professor that the increasingly diverse student body needs and deserves. (Domestic students of color now total 21% of the student body.) Macalester’s failure to support such a professor is a great detriment to students, not only failing to “support and foster the success of traditionally underserved populations” by eliminating professors whose curriculum highlights the historical and present contributions of marginalized communities, but also failing to equip all students, of every background, with the tools necessary to embody and engage in intentional multiculturalism.
This is not the first time that Macalester students and alumni have called out their academic home. In the last four years alone, the greater Mac community has had at least four highly visible campaigns in support of faculty and staff, raising awareness and demanding action around the tenure denial of Dr. Lara Nielsen, the promotion denial of Dr. Ping Wang, the elimination of K.P. Hong’s Associate Chaplain position, and the lack of support for non-tenure track faculty. In 2005, when Macalester’s only Latino Studies professor, Dr. Maria Elena Cepeda, left to teach at William’s College, students organized and circulated a letter across campus, which “called not only for hiring a Latino Studies specialist to replace Cepeda but making the infrastructural changes that they said had caused her to leave. Among these recommended changes was a move of Latino Studies to the American Studies department.” Ten years later, Dr. Naca’s taught a number of the few Latinx Studies courses at Macalester.
Dr. Naca is rare find and she is invaluable to Macalester College.
By signing this petition, we support Dr. Naca’s reinstatement as a vital professor, mentor, and embodiment of multiculturalism, internationalism, academic excellence, and service to society, the core values of Macalester College. In THRIVE, Macalester’s strategic plan from 2015, Macalester lists a strategic priority to, "Increase the diversity within our student body, faculty, and staff, with a particular emphasis on increasing the presence and retention within our community of traditionally underserved populations." Hold Macalester accountable to fulfill its mission, purpose, and strategic plan.
To show your support, sign the petition, read Dr. Naca’s statement on her website homepage, read and tweet out her lawsuit, spread the word to alumni and students, and donate to support Dr. Naca’s legal action fund.
Visit Kristin Naca’s website to read her statement and her precedent-setting legal case, “Naca v. Macalester”: http://www.kristinnaca.com/
Follow on Twitter: @Naca_v_Mac
Tweet your support: #SupportNacaSaveMac, #SupportNaca, #SaveMac
Macalester College’s Mission and Statement of Purpose: http://www.macalester.edu/about/mission/
THRIVE: The Future of Macalester College. Strategic Plan approved by the Macalester College Board of Trustees on January 16, 2015: https://www.macalester.edu/president/strategicplan2014/StrategicPlanningReportFinal.pdf
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