Faculty asks students to support domestic partner benefits

The UM System said they aren’t considering any changes to these benefits.

A petition on Change.org addressing same-sex domestic partner benefits for employees on MU campuses recently emerged.

The petition is part of a movement made by students and Faculty Council supporting the cause. According to the petition, the Council has already passed a resolution supporting this, but it hasn’t been able to get the UM System Board of Curators to approve the measure.

Faculty Council is working in conjunction with the Missouri Students Association to gain support for the resolution.

“Faculty Council Chairwoman Leona Rubin approached me about our support for domestic partner benefits for faculty and staff,” MSA President Eric Woods said. “That’s something they had been working on pretty actively. It has come up several times over the last 10 years or so, and she was looking for student support.”

Woods said though this issue doesn’t directly affect students, they can be hurt by it nonetheless.

“We know that some faculty who are presently employed by the university may not be coming back because they can’t get these benefits, and it also deters potentially talented faculty from coming to the university because they won’t have those benefits,” Woods said. “It really is detrimental in that it has a possibility to deprive us of quality faculty and staff to continue better education.”

MSA passed a resolution in support of domestic partner benefits Wednesday during a special session of Senate. Woods said though students do not have a direct say in this, their opinions are taken into account.

“As the university’s primary stakeholders, a lot of people in those positions tend to take the opinions of the students very seriously, and they hold that in reverence, and they consider them,” he said.

MSA Student Affairs Chairman Tyler Ricketts said the resolution could make a significant statement to MU students.

“If we can pass a resolution, it sends a message saying that nearly 25,000 undergraduates, via their MSA senators, support domestic partnership,” he said.

Ricketts said he will make it a priority to get this resolution passed in MSA.

“Because we are the student voice on campus, I think its our responsibility to stand up with our faculty and show them that students believe in them, respect inclusion (and) respect the core values of diversity,” Ricketts said. “I want to make it a priority and send a message to administrators at the system level that we want fairness.”

MU alumnus Mike Lipsitz is one of 612 who have signed the petition on Change.org. He said he finds it wrong that MU only allows benefits to married couples.

“You can’t use marriage as a barrier to these benefits because same-sex couples aren’t allowed to marry,” he said.

Lipsitz said there had to be negative sentiments about the bill from within the university.

“There obviously must be resistance coming from somewhere in the university to do it or they would have just avoided all this negative publicity and done it,” he said. “I mean, what is (the school's) justification for not doing it?”

UM System spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead explained that the system is not currently considering any changes to domestic partner benefits, but said she didn’t want to elaborate.

Woods said in order to get the curators to permit these benefits, students from all UM system campuses will have to unite.

“If we can join together, us and students on the other campuses to really just speak out against this, it will definitely influence the decision and hopefully that pressure tips the scale,” he said.

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