Let the benefits be handled in court

In an interview with Stater editors last week, President Lester Lefton made it pretty clear that Kent State is going to wait out the lawsuits currently pending against institutions such as Miami University before making a move to offer domestic partner benefits.

As was published in Monday’s Stater, Lefton basically said until the state of Ohio legalizes these benefits, he will not recommend that the Board of Trustees move forward with providing them at Kent State.

And he’s not necessarily wrong in his thinking.

While it’s great to know that our Undergraduate Student Senate supports these benefits and is willing to go on record as such, in the long run that really doesn’t mean shit. And they know it.

As Governmental Affairs Sen. Amy Groya said after the resolution passed last week: “Us approving or denying has no bearing on any action taken by the administration.”

USS has no power over whether the university offers benefits — nor to whom. It doesn’t even have the power to persuade the current administration to move forward.

Going ahead with something that, for better or worse, is currently illegal — as in against the constitution, which anyone who’s taken a law class can tell you is the highest form of law, albeit unpopular — would be, as Lefton told Stater editors, a waste of resources the university could better allocate somewhere else.

Although we, as an editorial board, would love to see the university offer the benefits, we also understand that the fight is already being fought, and there are other ways to change the law without breaking it.

We’d rather use the university’s money to keep tuition low, attract better faculty and offer more classes instead of breaking the law and fighting an almost inevitable lawsuit, when that issue is already in the courts.

The results of the Miami suit will be known before a suit against Kent State would be settled. Let that university use its resources to work this out in the system. Then we’ll all benefit.

However, there are steps that Kent State can and should take to show its support for this issue. The first step has already been taken by USS, Graduate Student Senate and Faculty Senate, all of which have passed resolutions supporting domestic partner benefits.

The next step is for Lefton and the Board of Trustees to go on record supporting the benefits. They don’t have to break the law, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work to change it.

And finally, Kent State should tack on that support to the Miami lawsuit, if in no other way than as an amicus, or friend of the court, brief.

Like it or not, the university will not be offering domestic partner benefits soon. However, USS, Faculty Senate, PRIDE!Kent and anyone else who cares about this issue, can use their collective powers of persuasion to at least make the university’s position known as a show of support.

And if what Lefton told Stater editors is true, that position is the one everyone has been asking for.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.