Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Extend Healthcare Benefits

Two weeks ago, Georgetown’s Benefits Advisory Committee received a proposal for expanding health benefits to what the university calls “Legally Domiciled Adults.” This refers to an adult who lives with a faculty or staff member and has “a very close personal relationship with the employee,” a distinction described by University President John J. DeGioia at a town-hall meeting late last month.

The new proposal could provide benefits for family members not included in the current plan. This is an important step toward establishing equality for all faculty members, especially for the gay faculty members who have recently lobbied for this measure.

We have previously agitated in this space for increased benefits for same-sex partnerships, and we now applaud the administration’s courage for considering the health benefits plan. The support of the Faculty Senate, as well as DeGioia’s consideration of the plan, demonstrates an encouraging movement toward full inclusiveness.

While the proposal has yet to be approved by the BAC, we hope that the university will support this vital measure for restoring imbalances in the treatment of all faculty or staff members. and for upholding the Jesuit commitment to diversity and respect for all people. The new plan also begins to put Georgetown in step with the practices of other elite institutions that already recognize same-sex partnerships. This helps to maintain Georgetown’s faculty competitiveness and shows that the university is willing to accommodate professors from a range of backgrounds. More importantly, this also affirms the university’s commitment to adapting to the demands and challenges of our contemporary world while Georgetown continues to adhere to Jesuit principles of social action and care for the community.

The university’s consideration of the new policy sidesteps the complications of homosexuality in Catholic doctrine, couching the health benefits expansion within vague language. This lets Georgetown play both sides. Although same-sex partners could claim benefits under the proposal, the university can shield itself behind broad statements that do not mention same-sex partnerships.

Clearly the topic remains difficult to bring into the open and remains discussed through the administration’s coded conversation. As long as this topic remains so sensitive within the Church, a cautious approach may be the most prudent at this time and the faculty appears to be content so far to move with baby steps. The move toward greater acceptance and equality can often be slow-going, but the university should continue to listen to the demands of marginalized groups and work with compassion to make sure everyone at Georgetown receives fair and equal treatment.

Although the proposal has just begun to work its way through the administration, we can only hope that the university enacts it in the near future and moves forward in its mission to ensure the welfare of its faculty and staff and their loved ones. A failure to approve the plan would be a considerable step back for the university, but we are sure that compassion for members of the Georgetown community will push this sensible plan into effect.

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