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Faculty to vote on same-sex benefits

By Alexandra Pusateri
On November 27, 2012

The University of Memphis Faculty Senate will meet next week to vote on providing same-sex domestic partners with the same benefits given to married faculty and staff on campus. Senators discussed the issue last month, but the vote will take place Tuesday.
As of now, the spouse of anyone working for the University full-time receives healthcare benefits along with the employee. Spouses are also entitled to education benefits such as receiving classes for a discounted tuition.
If this bill to extend these benefits to same-sex domestic partnerships passes in the Faculty Senate, it will proceed to the U of M administration. The administration and the Tennessee Board of Regents have to approve the measure for it to be put into place.
Thomas Hrach, the journalism department representative in the senate, said if prospective professors who are in domestic partnerships are interested in coming to the U of M, the administration may not be able to give the benefits they require.
"We're at a disadvantage if they want to come here," he said.
The University of Tennessee Knoxville Faculty Senate approved a similar bill last spring, which included healthcare, family leave and fee waiver benefits. In September, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek wrote a letter to the school's senate expressing the administration's inability to recognize the approved bill.
"It is incumbent upon us to act consistently with the public policy of our state," Cheek wrote. "We believe that [the resolutions] are inconsistent with the public policy of our state expressed in constitutional and statutory provisions."
Students are welcome to observe the meeting of the U of M Faculty Senate at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday in the Senate Chambers on the second floor of the University Center.

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