Faculty form gay support group

In response to Northern Kentucky University’s Faculty Senate’s goals to offer same-sex partner benefits, faculty and staff concerned with the issue held their first organizational meeting Oct. 19.

This semester, one of the Faculty Senate’s goals is to achieve benefits for same-sex partners of NKU’s faculty and staff, according to Miller. Such organizations have been formed at both the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, which recently passed the same-sex partner benefits for their faculty and staff. This makes U of L Kentucky’s first public university to offer such benefits. Six of Ohio’s state schools offer these benefits. So far, NKU has made some steps in this direction and the faculty and staff believe the time is right to move forward on this issue.

Dr. Annie Dollins, faculty member in the nursing and health department, described a local group she belonged to called Women of a Like Mind. The group consisted of lesbian faculty who met to discuss each other’s experiences. Here at NKU, it evolved into casual meetings between gay and lesbian staff and has grown out of the need for a university-recognized organization.

“There has not been an organization of people of different sexual orientations on campus for faculty and staff,” said Danny Miller, chair of the literature and language department.

The meeting occurred two days after a state legislator tried to prevent these benefits from being allowed. State Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, pre-filed a bill for next year’s legislative session to outlaw unmarried domestic partner benefits at Kentucky’s state universities.

Issues of equality are affecting faculty and students at NKU. At the beginning of the fall semester Kentucky Hall Residential Assistant Jeremy Phillippi reported anti-gay vandalism to the white board on his door and decorations on the bulletin board in the hallway as The Northerner reported.

“The incident made us feel that we need to be more visible on campus,” Miller said.

According to Miller, the meeting was an opportunity to gather members and confirm how often members would like to meet. The group also addressed the issue of a name for this new organization; one title discussed was “People of a Like Mind.”

“We are creating this to be supportive people,” said Mary Bucklin, a faculty member in the women’s studies department. “I’m hoping it is a positive thing for the whole community and I hope, if nothing else, we can be a support to one another.”