SAN MARCOS —The president of Texas State University-San Marcos plans to change a school policy Monday to ban discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.
Faculty members have pressurSAN MARCOSed President Denise Trauth to make the change in recent months, but she said the decision should come from the regents who govern the nine-school Texas State University System. Trauth said Friday, however, that a system lawyer told her that she has the authority to change the policy for the San Marcos campus.
“Texas State is already a university with a great deal of diversity, and I think it's also a university that is also quite tolerant,” said Trauth, in her second year as president. "But (the change) does embody our value for tolerance."
The 26,000-student school's current policy bars discrimination or harassment based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion or disability.
Jerome Supple, the school's president from 1989 to 2002, wanted the regents to add sexual orientation in 1998. But the proposal never made it to the board because Supple was unable to sell it to the presidents of the other schools in the system.
System Chancellor Lamar Urbanovsky was lukewarm to the change, saying in recent interviews that he had no opinion on whether it should be made.
Trauth said she did not discuss the change with the full nine-member board of regents and did not know how they would react. But she did express her intention to two regents who sit on a committee that handles issues specific to her school.
“They were very supportive of my taking an action where I had clear legal authority and where I had determined that it was the right thing to do,” she said.
The University of Texas, Texas A&M and Austin Community College, as well as most major private schools in the state, include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies.
Bill Stone, the chairman of Texas State's Faculty Senate, called Trauth 's decision “an act of tremendous leadership,” saying the change would make the school more comfortable for gay and lesbian students and employees. He also said it would help the university's stature.
“It certainly provides a more big-league atmosphere, like we're one of the big players, as opposed to a regional school,” Stone said.
Ron Sawey, an associate professor in computer science who has been one of the faculty's most vocal supporters of changing the policy, said Trauth should have changed the campus' policy the day she arrived. Sawey said he hoped to keep pressure on the regents to adopt a similar change for all of the schools in the system.
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