UA nondiscrimination policy is obsolete

The University of Alaska’s nondiscrimination policy needs to be ushered into the 21st century.

What will bring this policy up-to-date is the addition of LGBT individuals in the stipulations of nondiscrimination.

The Board of Regents has expressed that it intends to deal with this issue within the year – which is great, but does not change the perception that UA is lagging behind the times.

The current policy prohibits the discrimination of people based on a person’s race, religion, color, national origin, citizenship, age, sex, disability, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions or parenthood.

Thankfully, the Regents are finally looking to addressing this issue in the foreseeable future.

There is really no reason for the Regents to not approve this addition into policy. LGBT individuals are generally accepted, or tolerated at the very least.

Unfortunately, the city of Anchorage was unable to pass Ordinance 64, which would have changed the city’s nondiscrimination law. There is always hope that since the UA system is such a major player in the city, and even the state, that its decision will ultimately influence the decision-making of both the city and the state in regards to this issue.

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A number of student groups around the state are extremely active in advocating for the addition of sexual orientation into the bylaws.

One of these groups is the UAF Gay-Straight Alliance. This group has been among the most-active groups in encouraging the Board of Regents, asking them several times in the past year to update this policy, stating that the UA system is lagging behind other state universities around the country.

Other groups have also made pleas to UA Regents, including the Juneau GSA. In their appeal to the Regents, the Juneau GSA made Valentine cards for the Regents, urging them to take action on this issue.

There is also a fairly active Facebook group that is dedicated to this issue. The creators of the page usually update the page prior and during Board of Regents meetings, encouraging its followers to e-mail the Regents or attend the meetings if possible.

It is efforts like these that will ultimately determine the Regents’ decision. If the Regents do not hear about the issue that students, staff and faculty have with the current nondiscrimination policy, they are not likely to change it.

Students, staff and faculty need to come together and e-mail the Regents and attend the meetings if at all possible. If the UA community shows those that make the rules and regulations that this is an important issue, it will be addressed and it will likely leave the Regents little recourse but to change its policy.

The search for a new President for the UA system and now a new chancellor for UAA, things may get a little bogged down, but this issue can no longer be put on the back burner.

Changes take time, but now is the time for change in UA’s nondiscrimination policy.