A Massachusetts judge sided with Boston College this week in a crucial early round of a lawsuit brought by a self-described radical feminist theologian who refused to accept male students in her class.
Assoc. Prof. Mary Daly (Theology) told the University earlier this year that she would resign or retire before complying with its demand that she open her classes to men.
Boston College, which has stood by its non-discrimination policy, accepted her agreement to retire. Negotiations ensued and were completed between the University and Daly.
Daly has since filed a civil suit against the University to get her job back, alleging she was terminated without the procedure due a tenured faculty member. She had moved for a preliminary injunction barring Boston College from describing her as retired or distributing catalogues that didn't list her proposed course offerings.
But Middlesex Superior Court Judge Martha B. Sosman this week ruled in favor of the University on May 24 and denied Daly's motion for an injunction against BC.
Sosman stated that the University had "made a strong showing in support of its contention that Daly did in fact agree to retire," adding "there is no question that the school has adequate cause to terminate Daly if, for some reason, her promise to resign turns out to be unenforceable.
"Boston College has made clear its policy that students are not to be excluded from or dissuaded from taking classes on account of their gender, and Daly has made equally clear that she will not abide by that policy," the judge stated.
"A coeducational institution of higher learning may insist that all courses be open to both male and female students. A professor's defiance of that policy - in this case, a vehement and very public defiance - would give the school ample grounds for her termination."
Daly attorney Gretchen Van Ness has said her client plans to pursue her case against the University. But Sosman, in her ruling this week, stated Daly had "not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of her claim."
A University spokesman welcomed the judge's decision this week.
"Boston College is pleased with Judge Sosman's ruling, which we feel is both fair and sensible," said Public Affairs Director Jack Dunn. "Prof. Daly clearly stated to University officials her decision to retire rather than to admit male students into her classroom. It was in consideration of her assurances to retire that we agreed to cancel Prof. Daly's classes for the current and future semesters and it was in consideration of these assurances that we have made retirement payments to her."
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