On campus

Faculty senate discusses counseling discrimination bill

February 25, Tech’s faculty senate discussed bill SB 514 prohibiting disciplinary or discriminatory action to be taken against anyone refusing to counsel or service a client with different religious beliefs.
Jim Bitter, Chair, TBR faculty sub-council, East Tennessee State University representative and professor of counseling, emailed the senate asking them to consider the concerns related to endorsing this bill.
Linda Null, professor of English and communications, said that the bill allows students training in professional helping careers to refuse service to clients with beliefs different from theirs as long as a referral is made for those clients.
“The problems are with the intent and the implementation of the bill,” Bitter said. “The intent is to counteract a court decision in Michigan that up help the right of Counselor Educators at a university to dismiss a student who refused to counsel people who were members of the LBGTQ community-and who stated that she would also not work with anyone who had had an affair, was considering and abortion or other problems she disagreed with.”
Several senates agreed the bill could limit students training to become counselors to only counsel clients with beliefs similar to their own.
“Students need to try to work with those different from them, we challenge students to open their minds, not close them,” said Julie Baker, Interim Assistant Dean, College of Education. “We teach them to work with anybody, not just those they are comfortable with.”
“I would like to look into the context of this bill further before making any decisions because I don’t want to disrespect anyone’s religious beliefs,” Barbara Jared, assistant professor of nursing said.
Other senate members agreed that they would like to further investigate the content of the bill before coming to a conclusion. The senate also suggested consulting the psychology department to hear their perspective on this issue. The discussion was moved to the next business meeting, April 1.
In other business, the faculty senate moved the discussion concerning benefit equality for domestic partnerships to the top of the agenda April 1.
The vote was unanimous to raise salaries for adjunct faculty stating that the maximum salary per credit hour will now become the minimum. This is the first increased approximately 15 years.
“There are four levels, the first currently maxing out at $550, and the forth level maximum is currently $700,” Steve Isbell, professor and department chair of economics, finance and marketing said.
The motion passed for faculty senate President Brian O’Connor contact contingent faculty reminding them to notify their department senate representative with any suggestions or concerns in regards to representation at faculty senate meetings. This motion passed with a 13-10 vote.