Faculty Senate members discussed equal benefits for state-approved employee marriages at their Wednesday meeting.
The faculty senators voted 6–0 in favor of providing spousal benefits for faculty members whose marriages are recognized by the federal government. Three senators abstained.
The senators plan on bringing their endorsement to the Board of Regents and possibly to President Denise Trauth.
During their previous meeting, the senators decided to draft two statements to gather the opinions of their individual departments and then regroup. One statement said the Faculty Senate supported spousal benefits for faculty members in marriages recognized by the federal government, and the other said all university benefits would be available for employees if the senate supported it, said Susan Weill, journalism and mass communication senator.
Weill was one of the senators who chose not to bring the statement to the faculty in their department. She said there was no real method for conducting a vote successfully. Instead, Weill suggested the senators vote on the issue and bring it to the Board of Regents
“If the president (knows) how the Faculty Senate feels about it, it gives her a platform or information if someone asks, ‘Well, how does your faculty feel?’” Weill said.
Although Faculty Senate is barred from lobbying on political issues, the senators want to have at least made an effort even if Trauth does not want their stance on the matter, said Theodore Hindson, political science senator.
The issue of equal benefits for government-recognized marriages goes beyond the power of the Faculty Senate. It is a “constitutional issue,” said Michel Conroy, art and design senator and faculty senate chair.
“This is not an issue controlled by the Board of Regents,” Conroy said.
Although the vote appeared to be symbolic, the senators felt it was better to take a stance on the issue instead of doing nothing at all.
“I move that the Texas State University Faculty Senate supports spousal benefits for faculty members whose marriages are recognized by the federal government,” Weill said.