I believe it was Bill Livingston who liked to jab at other Texas presidents that the football team never lost to OU on his watch. This was of course a perfect storm of timing, luck, and the fact that Livingston’s record was a whopping 1-0. I must admit, however, that I felt something similar when receiving a weekend email from President Fenves alerting me to UT System’s swift action following the Supreme Court’s extension of marriage equality across the country.
Effective July 1, university benefits would be expanded to fall in line with the ruling. What a proud day, and stroke of luck, to be the sitting Staff Council chair at the moment a change was sweeping through campus for which so many have consistently advocated.
Working with Staff Council we are constantly reminded of the realities restricting us with every issue for which we might advocate. Constrained by any combination of legislative, economic, bureaucratic, and political handcuffs, we preach the art of the possible. But within that, we continue being driven by our ideals and our vision to drive campus closer to the one that lives in our hearts.
And so it was with great frustration that we replied to staff, year-in and year-out, that there was nothing we could do about the extension of benefits to same-sex partners, no matter how much it cut against our vision of the university we wanted. And then the Supreme Court ruled and the change so many wanted for so long came seemingly overnight. Staff Council is proud to have been on the right side of this issue for so many years, and overjoyed that campus has taken such a big step forward – we are so thankful to all the people who made this happen so quickly, and so impressed with their work.
At the end of the day, I was reminded about the real reward of this position, of being able to bring something positive to the lives of my campus colleagues, when I received the email in the title of this post, after having passed along the announcement: “Thanks for sharing. This news made my evening.”