It’s been about four weeks since classes began at Lane Community College, and about the same amount of time since Eugene Weekly broke the news that Daniel Mackay would be returning to teach at the school.
Mackay, a former priest, was found guilty in 2017 of three counts of prostitution, specifically for soliciting sex from a 17-year-old girl. He worked at the college before his conviction and arrest, and he is currently teaching as a part-time writing instructor this fall term.
LCC would not discuss with EW the reason for rehiring Mackay, citing the confidentiality of personnel issues, but it has now been revealed that the school’s legal counsel determined LCC had no grounds to dismiss him.
Students began taking a stand against Mackay’s employment almost immediately. Only a day after EW’s story was published, students began writing chalk messages around campus, including “Fire Daniel Mackay,” “LCC does not care about sexual assault” and “Students are watching Pres. Hamilton,” according to posts on Twitter.
At LCC’s first Board of Education meeting of the new school year on Oct. 11, students protested Mackay’s employment in person. Six students spoke during the public-hearing portion of the meeting, and three of them spoke directly about Mackay’s employment.
Associated Students of LCC Student Government President Keely Blyleven read a statement composed by the student government. In that statement, she laid out the ASLCCSG’s concerns about Mackay’s employment in terms of student safety and discussed the college’s decision to rehire him as an instructor.
“We have met with the college administration, and they explained that the decision to allow Mackay to return to teach our students was made after legal counsel reviewed the college policies, procedures and the faculty collective bargaining agreement and determined that they were not able to take action against Mackay without becoming liable for legal recourse,” Blyleven read from the statement. “Their plan is to ‘review, evaluate and revise as needed all policies and procedures related to providing students with a safe campus environment.’”
She continued: “Keeping our students safe is of the highest priorities of student government, and we will continue to advocate for students within the college governance system by speaking up about issues that affect students.”
Blyleven also reiterated various options for support of “those affected by Daniel Mackay’s presence on campus,” such as the school’s counseling and career center, which offers walk-in appointments. She also said that the student government would be advocating for students who wish to drop Mackay’s class.
At this point, Lane students can still add and drop classes to their schedules, but they are past the deadline to receive a tuition refund.
The board did not respond to student statements at the meeting. Board member Mike Eyster said those public statements would be referred to LCC President Margaret Hamilton for later discussion.
ASLCCSG Vice President Dan Good also spoke during the meeting, specifying he was speaking not as vice president or a representative of student government, but solely as a student at LCC.
“The overwhelming concerns from students I have spoken with on the matter are just too much. Many feel unsafe with him on this campus. Many have been triggered by his presence alone,” Good said. “Regardless of the convictions, state laws and teacher-union laws, the needs of the students should always come first.”
In his statement, Good also noted the prevalence of sex trafficking in the area and the fact that prostitution aids the work of traffickers. He also specified the fact that Mackay’s conviction involved a minor.
“These were allegations with a minor, and we have a multitude of minors on this campus and for that reason alone, he should not be able to teach here,” he said.
Good called for the school to assemble a committee to re-evaluate the policies that allowed Mackay to return to teaching after his conviction. He also called for Mackay to be fired immediately.
“Stand up for your students, especially those that are vulnerable and survivors of sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and anything alike,” he said. “This is not going unnoticed.”