Strong Statement to Vaughn Could Cause Showdown Over Domestic Partner Benefits

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In the strongest statement to date, the faculty senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution Monday in support of domestic partner benefits, threatening to take their grievances to UT’s board of trustees and writing that “any further delay is without warrant.”

The resolution, which was confrontational in tone, was delivered sometime Wednesday to President Ronald Vaughn and Provost Janet McNew.

The resolution states that faculty are:

1) “Calling for immediate action by the university trustees and president to institute domestic partnership benefits,”

2) “Requesting a full and detailed accounting of the administration’s actions to date and planned for instituting domestic partnership benefits,” and,

3) “Requesting a presentation of this full accounting to the faculty senate in April.”

The faculty, which voted 19 in favor of the resolution with one abstention and no one opposed, attached a DPB fact sheet to the resolution for the president and provost.

The fact sheet contained statistics and research findings in support of extending DPB. It said studies have shown that same-sex DPB coverage costs less on average than provisions for opposite sex couples.

It also said that a Human Rights Campaign study found not a single reported case of a DPB package being fraudulently used, that 88 percent of the top 50 ranked American universities offer DPB, and that the other three Tier One Regional Universities-UT being the fourth-all offer DPB.

The fact sheet also included a timeline of events ranging from 1994, when the Human Resources Director first met with faculty concerning DPB, to the present situation, which faculty feel to be one of “expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of meaningful response from UT’s President’s Office.” THE RESOLUTION

This dissatisfaction has led to more confrontational language in the adopted resolution. The document’s tone, described as “too negative” by one faculty member led to a debate over its tone. Several faculty members agreed but said the strong, confrontational tone was warranted. The resolution was then passed nearly unanimously, seeing one abstention from economics professor Dr. Charles Skipton, and no opposition

Part of the resolution reads:

“WHEREAS a denial of the legitimacy of spousal equivalents and their families constitutes a fundamental lack of ‘dignity and respect’ and ‘fair and consistent’ action with regard to these employees; and

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