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Faculty Senate supports benefit equality for all employees

By Suzi Vaughn
On April 4, 2013

Tech's faculty senate passed the motion to offer benefit equality to faculty in domestic partnerships, during Monday's meeting.
Brian O'Connor, the president, said several members requested a secret ballot, which caused the senate to disagree. Several other members opposed the secret ballot, and motioned for a public vote. In a voice vote, the majority voted in favor of the secret ballot. The secret ballot was conducted, resulting in a 16-6 vote, passing the domestic partnership equality motion through the faculty senate.
Julia Baker, foreign language assistant professor, Holly Stretz, associate professor of chemical engineering, and Suellen Alfred, adjunct faculty, composed the material. Stretz proposed the motion before the faculty senate.
"The faculty senate of Tennessee Technological University moves that the president of Tennessee Technological University and the Tennessee Board of Regents take action to offer benefit equality for domestic partners without regard to their marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity such that all benefits offered to spouses of married employees be offered to the partners of employees living in domestic partnerships," the motion said.
This controversial discussion among the senate peaked concerns regarding financial costs to the University. Several senators agreed that any additional cost for equality would be minimal and a worthy investment. Others were concerned that the motion would conflict with the state law not recognizing domestic partnerships.
The committee said that the motion was meant to support changing the state law. Alfred said that they wanted to make sure Tech was doing their part in supporting the state moving forward on the issue.
Until that happens, the senate will have passed the motion to be considered by President Phil Oldham in the hopes that he moves the motion forward and incorporates it into the Strategic Plan.
Passing this motion at Tech's faculty senate only states that they agree a policy should be implemented at a state level for benefit equality regardless of marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. The senate believes in supporting any changes that increases the recruitment of quality faculty at the University.

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