Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard today approved three recommendations of the President’s Taskforce on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity. Those recommendations, in bold, are:
- The university should reimburse employees in same sex couples for the federal taxation on same sex partners’ health and wellness benefits. The process, termed a “gross-up benefit,” increases salaries by the amount taxed by the federal government plus the amount taxes would increase due to the increased income, effectively eliminating the penalty incurred by same sex couples. At Western, the gross up will be effective with the Feb. 25, 2013 paycheck (Feb. 1 – Feb. 15 pay period) for same sex partnerships registered and recognized as having met university and state requirements for domestic partnerships.
- The university should add the following statement to the Dual Career Assistance policy: “These policies apply to same sex couples.” Further, the university should add the same sentence to any form or policy that references “spouse/partner.”
- The university should take steps to facilitate the ability for faculty, staff, and students to change their gender marker and preferred name without going through the time and expense of legally changing their name and/or gender with other governing bodies. Although Western’s current information systems do not allow for specification of a preferred name, Western has communicated to the vendor that such a modification is a high priority for our university. However, Western can do reprogramming for the fields of immediate and highest priority. With that need to set priorities in mind, representatives from the Registrar, the Equal Opportunity Office, Human Resources, Institutional Research, and Information Technology have convened a working group to consult on priorities. Implementation is expected to begin Winter Quarter and continue through Spring.
President Shepard thanked the taskforce for their excellent work. For more information, please see Shepard’s letter to the taskforce at http://www.wwu.edu/president/diversity.shtml.