Senators discuss transparency, same-sex rights

News Reporter

Faculty Senate members discussed several hot-button topics Wednesday, including tuition funding, transparency and equal benefits for approved faculty marriages.

Faculty senators said the Texas State University System Board of Regents needs to make students more aware of exactly where their tuition dollars are going. In addition, senators debated whether or not those in same-sex marriages should receive benefits if they are employees in the system. Faculty senators plan to address the regents during their Feb. 9 on campus meeting.

Roselyn Morris, McCoy College of Business senator, brought up a recent Wall Street Journal article regarding student tuition. According to the article, state universities are taking as much as 40 percent of tuition funding to help cover financial aid costs for low-income students, Morris said.

“The one thing the article made clear was that schools are not transparent about this. Private schools have been doing it for a long time,” Morris said. “The Wall Street Journal alleged that a lot of times, some of who financial aid is going to are people who are not, academically, completely qualified to be successful.”

Student debt is rising each year, and by using tuition to fund low-income students, universities are “asking students to help pay for the person next to them,” Morris said.

Morris’ main concern is that she is unsure if the university is being “transparent” and honest with students about where their tuition money is going.

“I think we ought to start discussing it at some point and possibly being transparent to our students and their parents,” Morris said.

Susan Weill, journalism and mass communication senator, suggested benefits for married couples, including those of the same sex.

“When will spousal benefits for all married couples recognized by the federal government be available for university employees?” Weill said.

Weill said she wants to discuss the issue with the Board of Regents, but faculty senators are hesitant on how exactly to move the process forward.

This is not only a faculty concern but a staff issue and a constitutional question, senators said. By supporting efforts to bring the issue to the board, the faculty will be supporting law changes, Morris said.

“A vote like that, I would not just be representing myself in that vote, I would be representing the entire college,” said Barbara Covington, College of Health Professions senator. “I am uncomfortable being asked to place a vote on something like that when I don’t have the input from my college to misrepresent my people.”

Some kind of action on the issue is needed, Weill said.

“I’m misrepresented by my state senators all the time,” Weill said.

Two options are available to the senate—either to express their opinions to the board as individuals or to speak on behalf of the faculty, said Michel Conroy, art and design senator.

“Speaking as individuals carries much less weight,” said Emily Payne, curriculum and instruction senator.

Faculty members have questions about the issue that need to be answered, and this kind of issue frequently gets “swept under,” Weill said.

Conroy suggested reflecting on the issue and coming back to address it later. Weill and Elizabeth Blunk, Family and Consumer Sciences senator, plan on making a statement about the issue during the next meeting.  

Faculty senators resolved to stay neutral and possibly remain anonymous on the issue when bringing suggestions and concerns to their individual departments.