Emory Report
November 1, 2004
Volume 57, Number 10


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November 1, 2004
Senate passes resolution on Georgia marriage amendment

BY Michael Terrazas

( Editor's note: Space permitting, Emory Report prints coverage of campus governance groups in chronological order based on meeting dates. However, due to the time-sensitive nature of issues discussed in the Oct. 26 University Senate meeting, a report of those proceedings appears in this issue; the Oct. 19 Faculty Council meeting will be covered in ER 's Nov. 8 edition. )

First on the agenda at the Oct. 26 University Senate meeting, held in the Jones Room of Woodruff Library, was a presentation by Michelle Smith, associate vice president for corporate relations, about the 2004-05 EmoryGives campaign.

Combined for the first time with money raised through the American Heart Association's Heart Walk, this year's EmoryGives goal is $900,000, more than double last year's goal. Smith demonstrated the campaign's new online giving form and played a Flash media demonstration e-mailed to the Emory community on Oct. 1. For more information on EmoryGives, visit www.emorygives.emory.edu .

Next were reports on goals for 2004-05 from the Senate's standing committees. The committees with representatives present were:

Honorary degrees (Richard Levinson, chair): Recommending three to five individuals to receive honorary degrees in 2006.

Campus development (Nancy Bayly, chair): Reporting for Bayly, Ray DuVarney said the committee will continue to review building projects, paying particular attention to the proposed Emory Village renovations and to developing a public art review committee.

Committee on the environment (Tim Bryson, chair): Ensuring environmental values are represented in Emory's strategic plan; embedding environmental standards in capital project design and processes; improving communication with campus and surrounding communities.

Library policy (Steve Strange, chair): Continuing to address ever-increasing storage demands for print collections; examining issues related to open-access publishing and establishing a repository for preserving digitally created materials.

Parking and transportation (Lynn Magee, chair): Implementing improvements in parking procedures, advertising carpools and shuttle routes.

Senate President Sharon Strocchia, who chairs a committee conducting a comprehensive review of the University employee benefits package. Beginning next month, Strocchia said the group will report monthly to the Senate throughout the year.

In response to a question from Strocchia about the benefits review, Mike Mandl took the opportunity to thank the Senate for the support he's received during his time on leave. Mandl, executive vice president for finance and administration, returned to work on Oct. 25 after a three-month absence.

Next on the agenda was a resolution presented to the Senate by the President's Commission on LGBT Concerns concerning Georgia Amendment 1, which will appear on the ballot of the Nov. 2 election, that would amend the state constitution to recognize marriage as solely the union between a man and a woman.

The resolution read as follows: "Resolved: That Emory University reaffirm its policies in behalf of the rights of gay and lesbian persons; and that Emory, as an educational institution, affirm the importance of the State of Georgia fully informing voters by including the full text of proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot."

Cathi Wentworth, chair of the LGBT commission, said the resolution arises from the fact that the actual language on the ballot does not accurately portray the amendment as it passed the Georgia Legislature. The full amendment has a second clause with legally vague language that possibly could affect a range of issues beyond marriage, such as civil unions, domestic-partner benefits, hospital visitation rights and the ability to make medical decisions, adoption, survivor benefits and other issues.

Wentworth said the commission feels the amendment, if passed, would hinder Georgia's ability to compete in the national marketplace and make Emory less of a destination university.

General Counsel Kent Alexander said, in his opinion, the amendment would have no effect on Emory's domestic-partner benefit policies if passed; those benefits are tied to signed affidavits confirming financial and personal commitments between two people and do not depend on Georgia marriage law.

After some discussion, the resolution passed by a unanimous vote of 18-0.

Emory College Dean Bobby Paul presented a draft of a new policy on discriminatory harassment; he and Alexander chair a committee charged with revising the policy. The revision combines the University's policies on discriminatory harassment and equal opportunity (they previously were separate).

Chief among the committee's concerns, Paul said, was balancing the sometimes opposing ideals of academic freedom with the desire for a harassment-free workplace. The Senate discussed the draft, and Paul invited people to send him comments, saying the committee hopes to submit a revised draft to the president in December.

To close the meeting, President Jim Wagner repeated a hope he presented in the Oct. 21 State of the University Address, for Emory to be "ever growing in community." Deliberations such as that over the discriminatory harassment policy are "not about rules that constrain us but about expectations we have about interacting with each other." Wagner said the way in which the LGBT community presented him with the Amendment 1 resolution was an example of the kind of effective communication he wants Emory to practice.

The next University Sentate meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 3:15 p.m. in the Jones Room.

If you have a question or concern for University Senate, e-mail Strocchia at sharon.strocchia@emory.edu.