[Vision2020] UI Faculty Senate Discusses Benefits-Related Policy Changes

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Wed Sep 8 15:24:59 PDT 2010

Courtesy of today's (September 8, 2010) Moscow-Pullman Daily News.




Faculty Senate discusses benefits-related policy changes

Proposed revisions include spousal employment, reduced student fees for

By Holly Bowen Daily News staff writer


Faculty Senate discusses benefits-related policy changes

Proposed revisions include spousal employment, reduced student fees for


By Holly Bowen Daily News staff writer

September 8, 2010


The University of Idaho Faculty Senate has resurrected a set of three
proposed benefits-related policy changes that didn't make it to the final
approval stage last year.


The senators' hope is that by sending the proposals back to the originating
Faculty Affairs Committee, further revisions will respectively align them
with state law and ensure they are compatible with the financial challenges
the university is facing.


Senate Chairman Dan Eveleth said Tuesday that UI President Duane Nellis shot
down one of the proposed new policies and the one proposed policy revision
in question because they potentially violate Idaho's constitution.


The proposed new policy would provide dual career accommodation for the
married spouses or domestic partners of UI employees. A UI human resources
staff member would assist the spouse or partner with finding local
employment, including at the university.


Spouses and partners participating in the dual career accommodation could
even be eligible for jobs open only to existing UI employees, and the
university could alternatively create a one- to three-year temporary
position for the person if his or her skills met a need at the institution.


Eveleth said the major issue with that proposed policy, as well as a
proposed revision to an existing policy that grants student fee discounts to
spouses of UI employees, is the wording that extends the benefits to
domestic partners.


"From what the president told me, he likes the idea in spirit, but it was
the partner distinction that really causes a challenge," he said.


In 2006, a majority of Idaho voters approved an amendment to the state
constitution that made a marriage between a man and a woman the only type of
valid and recognized domestic legal union in the state. Because the UI is a
state institution, it is bound by that rule.


Sen. Dale Graden, a history professor, said the UI's legal counsel visited
the senate last year and concluded the domestic partner wording was
unconstitutional. However, he said the wording in question was intentional
because there are faculty members who want the domestic partnership issue


"I don't think we're going to be swinging the State Board of Education to
our way of thinking on this issue," he said. "I want to pursue this, but I
want to do it strategically."


Senators discussed the idea of using the general word "family" in lieu of
more specific terms like "spouse" and "partner" before voting to send the
proposals back to Faculty Affairs for further assessment and tweaking.


The other proposed new policy that senators revisited and returned to
Faculty Affairs would grant a 50 percent reduction in in-state student fees
to the dependents of UI employees. The proposal's paperwork states the goal
is to promote employee recruitment and retention and improve culture and
climate at the university by expanding employee benefits.


Several senators expressed a desire Tuesday for more information about the
potential financial impacts of such a policy on the university. They also
wanted to know how other universities have fared with similar policies.


"I feel that if we're making suggestions about something that has a
financial impact, we need to know what that is," Sen. Anne Marshall of the
College of Art and Architecture said.




Seeya round town, Moscow.


Tom Hansen

Moscow, Idaho


"Domestic partner benefits are among the most tangible ways that an employer
chooses to express the value it holds for a loyal employee. Without domestic
partner benefits, gay and lesbian employees will forever remain a separate
and unequal group of workers."


- Human Rights Campaign




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