Aggies Recruit Teh Gheys

College Station, the San Francisco of Texas

EDUCATION

Aggies Recruit Teh Gheys
College Station, the San Francisco of Texas

By Paul Knight

Perhaps there's a side of Aggieland that we've never experienced, but Texas A&M, along with the entire College Station area, has never struck us as a place that accepts alternative lifestyles.

But that could be changing, because the school's faculty senate took a step to attract more gay professors. The senators, in an almost unanimous vote, passed a resolution that urges the university to provide insurance to domestic partners.

"I do know personally that we have lost opportunities to recruit very good faculty members because they were gay or lesbian and would be unable to obtain health-care benefits for their partners here," Ramona Paetzold, an A&M professor on the faculty senate, told Hair Balls in an e-mail.

Paetzold said that providing the benefits is important to attract the best professors to A&M and accomplish the goals of ­Vision 2020, a plan to turn the university into a "pre-eminent academic institution."

Furthermore, she said, it's a "matter of fairness that encompasses a diverse view of what it means to be a family."

"The coverage could help many 'family' arrangements and not just same-sex couples," Paetzold said.

The one dissenting vote in the faculty senate came from Walter Daugherity, a computer science professor. Daugherity told Hair Balls the change wouldn't bother him if the A&M System counsel was okay with it, but he added, "If the definition of 'dependent' for health insurance purposes is expanded by the Legislature, the state contribution would have to be increased, and our budget for this biennium was just cut." He said his vote represents the opinion of other A&M professors.

He told the Bryan-College Station Eagle, "I think it's unwise for the faculty senate to expand the influence that it has on an issue that System counsel has said would probably be illegal."

Daugherity's argument is similar to what the university has said for the reason it doesn't already provide insurance for the partners of gay professors. A&M officials have said that Texas insurance code allows a "spouse and/or child" to be a dependent.

So the resolution doesn't do much to actually change the situation at A&M, but it certainly is a strong voice for the type of professors A&M wants to attract.
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EDUCATION, IMMIGRATION

Stirring Up Anti-Mexican Trouble

By Richard Connelly

Gee, does this sound a little defensive?

Response to Inaccurate Allegations

• Neither the Klein Independent School District nor any of its campuses has flown another country or state's flag on a pole outside of its facilities.

• Neither the Klein Independent School District nor any of its campuses has flown the American flag upside down.

• Neither the Klein Independent School District nor any of its campuses has displayed another country or state's flag in a manner that would dishonor or disrespect the American flag or the Texas state flag.

• It is unfortunate that one person's misinformation has caused such a disruption for our students. The facts are as stated above.

If you're a school district and you find yourself having to formally state you've never displayed the U.S. flag upside down on a campus, that's not a good day.

The Klein school district has been hit with "hundreds and hundreds" of phone calls, all but shutting out regular business, because of a flap over a Mexican flag, spokeswoman Trazanna Moreno tells Hair Balls.

Blame right-wing radio station KTRH.

Moreno says a student at Klein Collins High asked for permission to hang a Mexican flag inside the school to honor Cinco de Mayo; permission was granted. Surveillance video caught another student tearing the flag down and throwing it in the trash, she says.

That second student apparently called KTRH, which did a story on the incident. The problem was, station boss and host Michael Berry chose to illustrate the story with a picture — not taken at any Klein school — of a flagpole with a Mexican flag on top, and an upside-down U.S. flag under it.

"We worked hard to get them to take the photo down, but the damage was done," Moreno says. "People thought we'd done something we didn't."

She says she can't talk about any discipline that might be handed out to the student who tore down the flag, but notes, "We want our students to be respectful of other people's property."
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DOING IT DAILY

There is a ton of new stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; you're only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. Head to http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs (or "/rocks" or "/eating") and under "Tools" on the top-right side of the page, use the "categories" drop-down menu to find these stories:

Sports

We were all over Brian Cushing's suspension, from his pre-scandal attempt to sweeten his name to his press conference discussing how a female fertility drug that masks steroid use showed up in his body. ("If this somehow doesn't end up with Cushing being faux registered at Babies R Us and his locker being decorated with pink and blue streamers for the first preseason game, I'm going to be pissed," Sean Pendergast wrote.)

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