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February 17, 2000


Workshops on prevention of sexual harassment continue

To Pitt faculty and staff:

Over the past six months, the Office of Human Resources has conducted throughout the University a series of Prevention of Sexual Harassment training programs. To date, nearly 1,600 faculty and staff supervisors on the Pittsburgh campus have participated in this program.

This training program has been designed to provide participants with an understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment, and how they can help to create and maintain a positive work environment to prevent sexual harassment from occurring.

Although the training program is now being moved to the regional campuses, the Office of Human Resources will continue to provide it to new supervisors and to those who were unable to attend one of the previously scheduled programs.

If you are a faculty member or a staff supervisor and you have not yet received this training, please register for it. We also strongly encourage all non-supervisory staff to attend a training session. The workshops are being offered on the following days: Wednesday, March 22; Friday, April 28, and Tuesday, May 2. All sessions will be held in 100 Craig Hall. For times and further information, call 624-8048, or e-mail Shirley Tucker at

Preventing sexual harassment is extremely important for all of us — please take this step to do your part. Thank you.

John G. Greeno

Assistant Vice Chancellor

Human Resources


Both sides short-sighted in fight over same-sex partner benefits

To the editor:

When the University administration denied health benefits to same-sex domestic partners, it was a tragedy. When the Board of Trustees decided to fight in court to protect their discriminatory practices, it became a farce. Universities rely heavily on their reputations, yet Pitt's trustees and administration seem unaware, at best, of the long-term damage their legal action will inflict on Pitt's ability to attract and retain committed staff and high-caliber scholars. Every time I have given a lecture at another university or attended a scholarly conference since the legal battle over health benefits for same-sex domestic partners began, I have had colleagues voice their anger towards Pitt, and their pity towards me. This is by no means an enviable position. The trustees' legal actions not only devalue lesbian and gay faculty and staff at Pitt, they also devalue our other colleagues who contribute to Pitt's excellence. Short-sighted prejudice simply cannot be the policy for a university that casts itself as an international research institution.

Unfortunately, the strategy of those fighting Pitt's discriminatory policy also suffers from short-sightedness. First, it would have made much more sense to challenge the practice of basing a particular benefit on one's marital status. On its face, this violates federal Title IX protections. If equal pay for equal work is a goal of anti-discrimination efforts, then there is no rational reason why those who can, and choose to, marry should receive a larger benefits package than those who do not. And second, because the fight against Pitt's discriminatory policy takes marriage, or its semblance, as the yardstick for receiving a more valuable benefits package, those who remain single or do not believe in marriage, whatever their intimate life may be like, will not receive equal pay for equal work. There is no rational or just reason why those who participate in marriage or its semblance are ipso facto more valuable as employees than those who do not, or indeed those who have other types of commitments that are at least as important. By fighting exclusively for lesbian and gay domestic partner benefits rather than equal benefits packages across the board, the legal strategy against Pitt will perpetuate a two-tier system of benefits that is also discriminatory. A just benefits policy would extend equal benefits to all, such that a university employee could have the option of providing health benefits to a spouse, an elderly parent, an ailing sibling, a lover of the opposite sex, etc. It is not only short-sighted but also unjustly punitive to reward only heterosexual employees who marry and lesbians and gay men who aspire to. By promoting marital status as a measure of an employee's worth, the lawsuit against Pitt joins the Board of Trustees in doing exactly what the administration has argued that it wants to leave to the legislature: mandating (unjust) social policy.

Eric O. Clarke

Associate Professor

Department of English

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