Macalester Institutional Equity VP Sued by Former Penn State Professor

by Catherine Kane November 1, 2023

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Alina Wong

Macalester College

Alina Wong, Macalester’s vice president for Institutional Equity, is a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by a former Penn State Abington professor. Zack De Piero alleges race-based discrimination by Penn State. Wong is among the eight Penn State staff members De Piero is suing, along with the college’s board of trustees. De Piero’s suit, filed in federal court on June 14, 2023, alleges discrimination under the first and fourteenth amendments and the Civil Rights Act.

Wong, who was hired by Macalester in January 2022 as its first vice president for Institutional Equity, came to St. Paul from Penn State, where she served as their assistant vice provost for educational equity.

College spokesperson Joe Linstroth declined to comment on the lawsuit.

De Piero alleges that Wong contributed to a pattern of discrimination by Penn State senior leadership that targeted him because of his white race. In court filings, De Piero describes a faculty and staff-wide “Conversation on Racial Climate” led by Wong over Zoom on June 5, 2020. The suit alleges that Wong “expressed her intention to cause Penn State’s white faculty to ‘feel the pain’ that George Floyd endured.” Later, she led the group in a breathing exercise in which she instructed non-Black participants to “hold [their breath] just a little longer—to feel the pain.”

In the same meeting, Wong, on the topic of the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, allegedly said, “what I’m interested in doing is staying in the disruption—and actually, disrupting more—because I think that’s what we haven’t seen and that’s what we haven’t done…What we call looting, I think of as just getting what you’re due.”

De Piero was an Assistant Teaching Professor of English and Composition at Penn State Abington at the time of the alleged discrimination. The suit has been supported and publicized by the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), a group that opposes university equity programs and filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court opposing affirmative action. The lawsuit has been widely publicized by conservative outlets like the Washington Examiner, the New York Post, and the Daily Caller. De Piero also made an appearance on Fox News.

As of publication, Wong had not responded to our request for comment.

Catherine Kane is a sophomore from Falls Church, Va. She is happy to no longer go to school across the street from Northrop Grumman’s global headquarters.

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