Kent State joins the crowd

Maria Nann

Kent State is no longer the odd one out.

The university will join eight other public universities in Ohio in offering domestic partner benefits to its faculty.

In recent negotiations between the Kent State administration and the American Association of University Professors, both bargaining teams agreed upon a tentative agreement that included domestic partner benefits.

Daniel Nadon, co-coordinator of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered studies at Kent State, said the contract was a strong step forward.

“Many of us have been struggling to obtain these benefits for several years,” he said, “while others have left the university to find them.”

PRIDE!Kent president Leora Rzepka was also pleased with the results of negotiations.

She said at the end of last semester, PRIDE!Kent tried to do as much as it could, but it was difficult to continue expressing the importance of domestic partner benefits throughout the summer.

“It’s really exciting that it’s finally happening,” she said. “It’s still kind of disappointing that it took so long and took so much fighting.”

Nadon said he hopes Kent State will be able to attract more highly qualified faculty now that the university is offering the benefits, which he thinks will help the LGBT program.

“Among those will be new affiliate faculty for the LGBT program,” he said.

Rzepka said she was excited to learn that the agreement would provide for three years, rather than the one-year extension the university had proposed in April.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen after the three years expire,” she said. “Hopefully they’ll renew it.”

Nadon said he congratulated the administration and AAUP for reaching an agreement that included domestic partner benefits.

“I am pleased,” he said. “It will put us in line with the majority of state universities in Ohio.”

Rzepka said the addition of domestic partner benefits to the faculty’s contract will reflect positively on the university.

“When the faculty are happy, I think the students are happy,” Rzepka said. “When you think about it, it only makes sense to keep your faculty happy and keep them healthy.”

Contact principal reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].