AAUP chapter president to ask Lefton to put domestic partner benefits up for faculty vote

Christina Stavale

Molly Merryman, associate professor of justice studies, announced to faculty and students earlier today that Lee Fox, chapter president of the American Association of University Professors, will formally ask President Lester Lefton to separate the domestic partnership benefits portion from the rest of the current contract extension proposal sometime next week.

This would allow faculty to vote “no” on the contract extension, as AAUP-KSU recommended Monday, but “yes” to a separate proposal for domestic partnership benefits.

In addition to domestic partner benefits, the university’s one-year contract extension proposal, dated March 27, offered a 3 percent raise and no increase to what faculty members pay for health insurance.

The announcement came at the Stark Campus during a formal presentation regarding domestic partner benefits by Merryman and Linda Tessier, professor of philosophy and religious studies at Youngstown State.

Merryman said the AAUP-KSU has indicated it would vote “yes” for domestic partner benefits if Lefton agree to Merryman’s proposal.

She said the AAUP tried, and failed, to do the same thing multiple times during Carol Cartwright’s presidency. Merryman said she is hopeful Lefton will be more willing to consider the idea.

“In conversations with Lefton, he seems to understand LGBT issues and how we’re discriminated against,” she said.

Also during the presentation, which was planned before the university’s offer of domestic partner benefits, Tessier described Youngstown State’s struggle to get domestic partner benefits and how they eventually achieved their goal. She offered suggestions for students in making the issue of domestic partner benefits known throughout Kent State such as writing letters and talking to faculty about the importance of the issue.

Check the Daily Kent Stater and KentNewsNet.com next week for updates on this story.

Contact minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].