Other campus: Equality and state law (Indiana U.)

By Indiana Daily Student

(U-WIRE) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Miami University of Ohio is facing a lawsuit from State Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Cincinnati, because he objects to the university’s domestic partnership benefits package. Ohio passed an amendment to its constitution in a widely supported referendum last year that bans giving gay couples similar rights and benefits as married couples. Opponents of Miami of Ohio’s domestic partnership package argue that the university, as a public institution, is obligated to abide by the state law.

IU offers a similar package of benefits to the partners of its gay and lesbian faculty and staff. While Indiana’s marriage definition is not as strict as the one in Ohio, there are rumblings that stricter measures could be enacted here in the future as well. Thus, it is a matter that some at the University have begun to take a hard look at.

As an editorial board, we couldn’t agree as to whether the University of Miami should feel compelled to voluntarily relent on this matter, or if it should stand on the institution’s principles. Both choices seem, to us, at the same time meritorious and flawed. What we do agree on, though, is that the public and the state need to take a hard look at how such efforts will impact their public universities before they seek to enforce broad laws upon them.

The goal of a state-funded university is ultimately to educate the people of the state and to contribute to the public’s knowledge and welfare through research. In pursuit of that goal, it should do whatever it takes, within reason, to acquire the best and most knowledgeable educators and researches it can. Forcing state universities to refrain from offering domestic partnership benefits makes them much less competitive in attracting a significant number of educators and researchers.

Making some state universities less competitive in drawing a segment of the faculty they desire weakens the university as a whole and robs the student population of studying with some truly brilliant minds. It also limits potential revenue sources for universities as they miss out on valuable research from those discouraged going to a university because of restrictive policies.

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    Universities are also a traditional bastion of egalitarian conduct. Forcing a university to go against this tendency toward openness by mandating that it discriminate against a portion of its employees neither sits well with many nor does it help to foster an environment conducive to education.

    The will of the people is something we all value dearly, and none of us feel it should be ignored lightly. But at the least, we urge citizens to carefully consider the full impact some of their decisions might have on public universities before they seek to enforce them.

    Staff Editorial

    Indiana Daily Student (Indiana U.)