Campus policies leave many asking questions

by Amy Zoss

Human resources guidelines and the Simpson constitution do not include sexual orientation as a protected minority, raising questions for some Simpson students.

“If you’re going to start naming specific things you really should commit to naming each item that you feel should be protected,” said LGBTQA President Cory Pfister.

The equal employment opportunity statement adopted by the college and used by human resources states that Simpson will not discriminate against potential employees who are considered members of particular classifications, including race, religion, disability or veteran status. Sexual orientation is not included in those categories.

“No one has asked me to look into adding it,” said Mimi Bartley, director of human resources. “It just hasn’t come up.”

Bartley said that if somebody brought the issue to her office, she would consider adding it to the EOE statement. While the EOE statement does not include sexual orientation, the college does provide the same insurance benefits to same-sex partners as those provided for spouses of heterosexual employees.

Bartley said that the policy does cover groups who are not explicitly named but are protected by law. Federal, state or local statute in Indianola does not explicitly protect sexual orientation.

Therefore, discrimination in hiring, the granting of tenure and termination based on sexual orientation is possible although unlikely considering possible legal repercussions in the form of civil suits.

The Simpson College constitution also omits any reference to sexual orientation. Pfister said that LGBTQA brought up the omission in the Simpson constitution in a meeting with Simpson President R. Kevin LaGree in the fall, but that nothing conclusive came from the meeting.

The issue of inconsistency in the sexual orientation policy between varying handbooks, constitutions and policies is just one example of an overriding problem.

In the last North Central Commission on Accreditation report for Simpson’s accreditation in 1996, a lack of clarity among faculty and staff about policies and procedures was cited as a significant issue.

“I think that it’s just a matter of putting in some consistency between the constitution and the other Simpson policies,” said Pfister.