STATE UNIVERSITY OF WEST GEORGIA
FACULTY SENATE MINUTES
DATE: October 16, 1998
CALL TO ORDER: Dr. Beheruz Sethna, President, called the meeting
to order at 3:00 P.M. in the Lecture Hall of the Richards College of Business
MEMBERS PRESENT: Sheila Abraham, Ozzie Binion, Susan Boes, David
Boldt, Jim Burton, Jack Charlesworth, Ray Crook, Swama Dutt, Larry Frazier,
Kathryn Grams, Randy Hendricks, Bob Hilliard, Joan Hubbard, Huff Chris,
Magdy Metry, Marc Miller, John Myers, David Osborne, Gary Wenzel, Frank
Orr for Lynn Gaskin, John Hansen for Farooq Khan, Caryl Lloyd for Cecilia
Lee, JoAnne Schick for Gwen McAlpine, Bruce Bird for Ara Volkan
APPROVAILOFMINUTES: The minutes of the September l8, 1998 meeting
were approved. (Wentzel/Binion).
OLD BUSINESS: None
Committee on Undergraduate Academic Programs, Committee # 1 (Chairperson:
Ray Crook presented the committee report.
The UAPC approved the following course recommendations and presented them
Deletion of COMM 2201, 3358, 3359, 4455, and 4466.
Modification of the description and prerequisites of COMM 4484.
Addition of THEA 4485.
Dr. Crook presented the proposal for the following program change: Renumber
THEA 2293 to 3357 and THEA 4484 to 4111 in order to correct the Area F
listings. The motion passed unanimously.
Committee on Faculty and Administrative Staff Personnel, Committee #3
(Chairperson: Sheila Abraham)
Dr. Abraham presented the proposed modification in the Discrimination Policy.
(Attached). She announced the affirmative action statement had been removed
and would be placed elsewhere in the Faculty Handbook. Tim Hynes
stated that the affirmative action policy would be in a separate place
in order to make clear that the affirmative action policy and the institutional
discrimination policy were not the same. Dr. Sethna stated that unless
there was a procedural problem and assuming the change was the wish of
the Senate, he would make a part of his approval the requirement that the
affirmative action statement would be relocated elsewhere in the Faculty
Handbook. Jim Burton stated that he objects to the sexual orientation
phrase in the discrimination policy. Anne Richards spoke in favor of the
policy and stated that the FASP Committee had been looking at the policy
for several years and that other schools (Georgia State and Georgia Southern)
had added such a policy. Dr. Sethna asked the legal and fiscal implications
of the policy. Dr. Richards responded that Carol Goodson had spoken with
Ms. Neely and she had no problems with the statement nor had there been
any problems at the other institutions. Gus Douvanis stated that the policy
had potentially serious legal consequences. He stated that should the University
create an entitlement beyond what is provided by the Board of Regents,
this institution would be responsible for providing these entitlements
out of the institutional budget. If the University creates more rights
than the State of Georgia or the Board of Regents, we do it at out own
risk. The fact that there has been no litigation at the other institutions
does not mean that there will not be in the future. He has no objection
to the policy except where it concerns domestic partner benefits. If the
institution granted benefits to gay and lesbian couples it would also need
to give benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples. The institution would
then have to ask people to explain their relationships. Also, the IRS would
require the institution to report those benefits as part of taxable income
if the couples are unmarried. Dr Abraham stated that it was her understanding
that if the discrimination policy and the affirmative action policy were
in separate places in the Handbook the problem of benefits would
be avoided. She stated that benefits fell under the affirmative action
policy. Dr. Hynes stated that he did not believe that the statement taken
at face value created a new right. However, even litigation based on a
frivolous right has to be responded to by the institution. JoAnne Schick
stated that we should consider if the policy was right or not because lawsuits
were not good reasons to avoid doing something that is right or just. Dr.
Burton expressed his opinion that the policy is not right or just. Ray
Crook asked of it was the intention of the policy to extend benefits to
domestic partners. Dr. Abraham stated it was not. Dr. Douvanis stated that
it did not matter whether it was the intent. If we create a right not given
by the Board of Regents, we are responsible. Dr. Richards stated that the
committee members were not polled as to their beliefs concerning benefits.
She believes there is a difference in gay and lesbian couples and heterosexual
couples who choose not to marry. She believes this is an ethical issue
and she would support domestic benefits if someone came forward. Dr. Douvanis
stated that single persons with a good friend who did not have medical
benefits could claim they were a domestic partner. Dr. Richards stated
that they could also marry under the present benefit package. Dr. Miller
stated he believed the issue should be examined as a choice of the use
of resources. The policy may be right but the University does not have
the resources to lose in support of the policy. Bruce Bird stated he had
concern about the word "shall" in the policy. That is mandatory language
and could lead to court. He feels the policy almost looks like a contract.
David Osbome stated that he felt we could be a target for groups wishing
to get their agenda to the federal government. We would perhaps have to
pay the legal fees to take a case all the way to the Supreme Court. Dr.
Crook stated that the current benefits policy states that benefits are
available to spouses and children. Blake Lanier stated that benefits were
based on marriage. Dr. Douvanis stated that the policy states " there will
be no discrimination ... in ... conditions of employment" and that includes
benefits. Dr. Crook stated that we currently discriminate on the basis
of marriage. Dr. Sethna stated that the institution should not be in the
business of discrimination when it comes to hiring and firing. However,
he feels that the intent of the committee is unclear. Dr. Abrahams stated
that providing benefits was not the intent of the committee but Dr. Richards
said she was not sure of the committee's intent. Dr. Richards stated that
we would not have a lawsuit if we granted benefits. Dr. Crook believes
we have heard a lot of opinions and assumptions. He asked the possibility
of getting an opinion from the Attorney General's office. Dr. Hynes stated
that such opinions have been given and the answer is that they do not know.
He repeated Dr. Douvanis' concerns related to the speculation about the
probability of litigation and added that the present conversation had added
more confusion about the possibility of benefits. He asked whether the
House was prepared to make financial commitments for this policy. Joan
Hubbard stated her understanding was that the policy statement concerning
other conditions of employment would include hiring, promotion, firing
and salary, but not benefits. Dr. Douvanis stated that Title 7 states benefits
of employment are hiring, firing, promotion and benefits. Dr. Hynes stated
that litigation would cost the institution and cost would have to be paid
whether we win or lose. Dr. Osbome stated this would open an opportunity
for liability regardless of the way you believe. Dr. Sethna stated that
at some point the institution would have to address the philosophical issue
of discrimination on the basis of sexual preference. At the present would
it be possible to narrowly tailor the language to exclude the fiscal problem
of benefits while upholding the ethical principle of nondiscrimination?
Dr. Miller stated that if the policy looks as though we are trying to narrowly
define discrimination, that could be a signal for litigation. Dr. Sethna
responded that today the government discriminates for income tax purposes
on the basis of un-married heterosexual or homosexual partners. Dr. Richards
asked if the statement concerning all other federal, state and local laws
would not be protective. Dr. Douvanis stated it would not and Dr. Bird
agreed. Larry Frazier asked would it be possible to devise a statement
of philosophy and say that nothing in the statement would confer rights
that were not already mandated by the Board of Regents. Dr. Douvanis stated
that the institution could be sued on the basis of their philosophy. Dr.
Schick stated that the City of Carrollton has a similar policy. She stated
that not all laws were just and to change the law costs money. She added
that to make such a change in the policy would be lip service to justice.
The question was called and the vote was yes-7, no-9, abstain - 2. The
motion failed. Dr. Abraham stated that the FASP Committee had worked on
this for 3 years without making any progress. The Committee would welcome
assistance from anyone.
Dr. Abraham introduced the proposal to have the Staff Advisory Council
recorded in the Statutes as an official organization of the State
University of West Georgia (Attached). The motion passed unanimously.
Committee on Graduate Studies, Committee #10 (Chairperson: Jack Jenkins)
Dr. Jenkins presented the July 22, 1998 minutes of the Committee on Graduate
Studies for information only.
NEW BUSINESS: None
ADJOURNMEENT: The meeting adjourned at 4:00 P.M.
Dr. Sethna announced that a new Graduate School video had been produced
and would be shown for interested persons after the Senate meeting.
Dr. Hynes wants to know if there are any objections to posting the Senate
minutes electronically. Dr. Sethna stated that Dr. Hynes needs to be informed
of any objections.
Acting Secretary of the Faculty Senate