President's Commission sponsors town hall on L/G/B issues

What had been billed as a place to air gripes and complaints, the recent Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (L/G/B) Town Hall, had a decidedly relaxed tone with the discussion centering around the achievements for the year. The town hall was moderated by Jeremy Corry, a member of the President's Commission on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns' Outreach Committee, the sponsoring body of the event, while representatives from various campus organizations presented reports of the year's successes and challenges.

Organizational reports were presented from the President's Commission, the Office of L/G/B Life, the Emory Gay and Lesbian Advocates (law school students), and Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Alliance League (GLOBAL). In addition to the organization's presentations, several issues and future projects were presented and discussed. They included:

*Saralyn Chesnut, director of the Office of L/G/B Life, announced that she will be hiring a permanent part-time position for next year. The 30-hour per week position will assist Chesnut with programming and other services.

*Corry introduced the issue of domestic partner benefits for students as an issue that the Commission and other groups plan to continue pursuing. He explained that these benefits would include access to the library, gym and University housing for domestic partners of students, but not health insurance because it is contracted through an outside agency that is prohibited by the state insurance commission from extending domestic partner benefits. Chesnut explained that the University domestic partner benefits policy for faculty and staff is administered by Human Resources, which doesn't handle benefits for students. Presently, students may register their partners in the Office of L/G/B Life in order to receive these benefits, but Chesnut warned that such a process depended upon the good faith of the heads of the respective units and that a University-wide policy would ensure that gay and lesbian students would receive these benefits.

*Ami Mattison, co-chair of the commission, announced that the Institute of the Liberal Arts (ILA) has made an offer for a faculty position in the area of L/G/B studies. The new faculty member would begin in the fall. Don Donham, former co-chair of the Commission, noted that the ILA has been developing a program in L/G/B studies in other ways such as classes and special guest lectures. Chesnut and Donham teach a class titled "Society, Culture and Sexuality" that currently has around 40 undergraduate students enrolled. Chesnut describes the course as "an introduction to L/G/B studies." Other areas of development include library acquisitions and the L/G/B Studies Lecture series.

--Matt Montgomery

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