OPINION | Butler, enforce couple policy

According to some, Butler University functions like a community of care.

The university attempts to find work for spouses and partners of professors and administrators, and this brings Butler employees closer together.

However, this stands in direct contradiction to Butler’s current policy.

According to the “consensual relationships” policy—found on Butler’s website—”the University prohibits consensual relationships” when one partner has a supervisory role over the other, even if it is indirect.

Butler needs to enforce its policies.

This ensures fairness and allows the university to best spend its resources to help the entire Butler community.

The most important thing is that if there is a situation where relatives are working in the university and  one of them is a top executive, that person in authority should always recuse him or herself from the conversation, said Elaine Johnson, director of compensation and organizational management.

I could not agree more.

It is vital both for the university’s integrity and simple efficiency that we minimize conflicts of interest.

That starts with high ranking partners recusing themselves.

The university administration certainly has the right to employ whomever it thinks best fits the job.

But as an organization, Butler needs to recognize that having partners working for the same institution—in the same department, sometimes—creates a conflict of interest.

In fact, someone at Butler did think of that.

And the university made a policy that forbids precisely this situation.

Perhaps because of this very contradiction, human resources is currently updating and reviewing all of their policies for the staff handbook.

The university continues to grow and struggles to provide for the core curriculum.

If Butler could reallocate money, the administration might find a way to hire more professors to teach those classes.

The spouses and partners of Butler’s faculty and staff could be wonderful people.

They might even fill vital roles in the university.

Where people benefit the university, Butler should be quick to preserve the community of care.

But as an organization, we need to take a very thorough and critical look at how best to spend on employment.

A real community of care means benefitting the students, not just the spouses of higher-ups.


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