In response to
recent racist and antigay graffiti at the Kansas school,
Johnson County Community College trustees have added sexual
orientation to the college's nondiscrimination policy.
The decision was made during the open portion of a
special board meeting, despite protests from at least
one board member who thought the hastily called meeting was
an attempt to quietly minimize exposure.
Hodge said more public discussion was needed and that
while the decision was legal, it was "not honorable." "I am
completely certain that we should not have discussed this
issue in the manner we did," he said.
trustees also discussed the policy change in a closed-door
executive session before returning to the open meeting for
the vote on Monday. "We should have sought public
input," said Hodge, who voted against the change
because he said it does not represent the values of
people in Johnson County or Kansas. "It would have been most
appropriate to invite public comments."
said the decision, made five months after two incidents of
racially and sexually derogatory messages were reported in
men's restrooms on campus, was in direct response to a
number of letters "from all over the place."
"It seemed like a
good idea to get board action so we could give the
faculty an answer, versus coming to them and saying, 'This
is what we can recommend,'" said trustee Jon Stewart.
faculty association brought the matter to the collegial
steering committee in January, said Vincent Clark, president
of the association. The committee is charged with
making recommendations to the board of trustees on
matters unrelated to salary negotiations.
The idea was
discussed further in March, and the speed on which it was
voted on by the board of trustees amazed even its most
avid supporters. "The meeting was a surprise," said
Kami Day, an associate professor at the college. "It's
a step, and a huge improvement."
Day said that
beyond the graffiti, there is a problem in that some
teachers aren't sensitive to their gay, lesbian, bisexual,
and transgender students. "It's a lack of awareness
more than anything," she said. "There needs to be
public discussion." (AP)