Hodge dislikes handling of discrimination policy

The following article appeared in the Johnson County Sun.

“Hodge dislikes handling of discrimination policy”
Elaine Bessier
Johnson County Sun

A change made Monday to the Johnson County Community College non-discrimination policy, adding protection for sexual orientation, should have been made in a regular board meeting rather than a special meeting, Benjamin Hodge said.

Hodge, the newest member of the board, cast the only dissenting vote. Virginia Krebs was absent from the meeting.

After meeting behind closed doors Monday to address several personnel issues, the Board of Trustees voted 4-1 to add sexual orientation to the factors that should be excluded from consideration in the personnel policy.

Other exclusions include a person’s race, color, age, sex, religion (changed from creed), marital status, national (changed from ethnic) origin, disability and veteran status.

Hodge said he was more concerned with how and why the meeting was handled than he was with the outcome. He believed the issue should have been handled in a regular monthly meeting.

In a statement released Tuesday, Hodge said, “Chairwoman Elaine Perilla and President Charles Carlsen have lost much of my respect and trust … I believe the meeting was held solely to minimize the exposure of this one issue of the non-discrimination clause. The manner in which the issue was handled was unprofessional.

“It was probably legal, but it was not honorable. It seems that Perilla and Dr. Carlsen are more concerned about being popular with the faculty than with listening to the thoughts of the 300,000 voters in the county.

“It would have been most respectful to allow the public to comment on this because you are setting social policy,” Hodge said. “The issue was not debated.”

After the meeting, Vincent Clark, president of the Faculty Association, called the action “a wonderful development” and said the association had requested the change.

“It brings the college into accord with the Kansas Board of Regents, the University of Kansas, K-State, most other Regents institutions and the University of Missouri,” Clark said.

He sent a letter to Carlsen in December, asking his help on the matter, and sent letters to all board members on March 30 asking for the change.

“This makes sure students and faculty members feel safe from harassment,” Clark said.

“It’s very important for the institution,” said Kami Daly, associate professor of English, who attended the part of the meeting when the change was made.