Domestic partner benefits and Reserve Fund spending highlighted a jam-packed legislative session for Marquette Student Government Thursday night – the last of College of Business Administration senior Dan Calandriello's tenure as MUSG president.
Recommendation 12, which passed in a 18-3 vote with three abstentions, calls for the university to offer domestic partner benefits, including health insurance and pension, to partners of administration and staff members who are in "committed homosexual relationships or committed heterosexual relationships for those unmarried."
Thirteen members of the Gay/Straight Alliance attended the meeting, including GSA President and College of Communication senior Jess Cushion, who spoke before the Senate.
According to Cushion, offering domestic partner benefits falls within the university's non-discrimination clause, but the fact that the university does not offer domestic partner benefits illustrates how the university still discriminates against gay individuals.
"In essence, the university is discriminating against homosexuals because health benefits are offered to the families of faculty and administration, but not to the domestic partners of homosexual faculty and administration," Cushion said.
The recommendation became a heated debate when College of Business Administration senator and sophomore Scott Seramur asked the author of the bill, College of Arts & Sciences senator and sophomore Jason Rae, if he believed this would bring more gay faculty members to Marquette who would "impose their homosexuality upon the students."
Rae said the remark was an "invalid and baseless claim that tends to continue stereotypes of hatred."
The purpose of the legislation, according to Rae, is to focus on how to make Marquette a better institution academically by providing benefits that will bring well-respected professors to Marquette who may not come otherwise.
"I believe the recommendation fits into Marquette's motto of cura personalis or, care for the whole person, because cura personalis is about the deep respect for each individual person and the idea of accepting all people," Rae said.
"Providing domestic partner benefits seems to show a respect and acceptance of all peoples and lifestyles, and it isn't until we begin talking about this that we can understand where each other comes from and see what can be done to help improve Marquette."
In a separate attempt to improve university proceedings, the Senate unanimously passed its first bill of year – a $25,000 withdrawal from the Reserve Fund to purchase two community service vans.
The bill calls for the transfer of money from the Reserve Fund to the Office of Purchasing, which will purchase the vans and donate them to the Office of Student Development for community service organizations.
Currently, two vans – one of which is 16 years old – are available for 25 student organizations that request such transportation.
According to the bill, increasing the number of vans offers a "unique opportunity to improve service at Marquette and make a positive impact on the Marquette community."
Other Pieces of Legislation Seen Last Thursday Include:
-A recommendation advising the administration to increase student financial aid in response to increasing tuition. The recommendation failed with a vote of 13-6 with nine abstentions.
- A recommendation advising the administration to rename advising week in order to avoid the "connotation that advising is only to occur during one week per semester," according to the recommendation. The recommendation passed with a vote of 24-3 with three abstentions.