Who will be forced to pay for this?
FARGO – Faculty and staff groups at North Dakota State University have proposed extending tuition breaks for spouses and children of employees to also include same-sex partners.
Pending approval from NDSU President Dean Bresciani, the expanded tuition benefit policy would add to a short list of institutional benefits the school can provide to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and their partners short of offering health care, which is banned by North Dakota state law.
“We’re aware there are limits,” said Thomas Stone Carlson, who worked toward the change last year as faculty senate president. “We are trying to do what we can with our own policies that we have control over.”
While those involved say only a handful of partners would take advantage of the 50 percent tuition discount, just having inclusive policies on the books sends a welcoming message to current and prospective LGBT faculty and staff.
“It means we consider LGBT faculty when we’re making our policies,” Stone Carlson said, adding that could convince a potential employee to accept a position at the school.
A few years ago, faculty and staff members helped change a university policy to make it easier for the partner of a gay NDSU employee to be hired at the school. Previously, those special hiring conditions only applied to the spouse of a new or recently hired employee.
Employees can also sponsor a partner for membership at the Wallman Wellness Center, regardless of marital status, and have access to a variety of counseling services through the Employee Assistance Program.