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    Shelton opposes gay marriage ban

    President Robert Shelton talks about diversity, including gay rights and Hispanic recruitment, to the UA community yesterday at Gallagher Theater in the Student Union Memorial Center. The speech was part of the UAdiscusses... Inclusion.
    President Robert Shelton talks about diversity, including gay rights and Hispanic recruitment, to the UA community yesterday at Gallagher Theater in the Student Union Memorial Center. The speech was part of the UAdiscusses… Inclusion.

    President Robert Shelton said he opposes a voter initiative that would ban gay marriage because a provision outlawing domestic partner benefits would hinder the university’s ability to attract new employees.

    Shelton’s declaration during the “”UA discusses inclusion”” forum at Gallagher Theater yesterday was the first time he had taken a stance on Proposition 107.

    “”I can tell you unequivocally that were this to pass, it would be very bad for the university,”” Shelton said.

    Proposition 107 would not only ban same-sex marriages, but it would deny legal status to unmarried couples in any of the state’s political subdivisions, including universities, according to the Web site of the Arizona secretary of state.

    That means the UA would no longer be able to offer employees domestic partner benefits.

    “”It would really cripple this university’s ability to compete,”” Shelton said.

    Shelton’s stance echoes that of his predecessor, former President Peter Likins. Likins and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon filed a brief with the Arizona Supreme Court in August that opposed the amendment.

    Shelton also reiterated his support for making the UA a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, a goal that requires 25 percent of the student body to be of Hispanic descent.

    “”You should take this as a great sign that we are committed to drawing the very best human capital to this university,”” Shelton said.

    Likins was also on-hand at yesterday’s forum, which was the first time the award bearing his name, the Peter W. Likins Inclusive Excellence Award, was given to students, faculty and staff for their work in promoting a diverse campus community.

    During his keynote address, Shelton said the campus atmosphere had impressed him with its programs designed to include students of every background.

    But Shelton was quick to say the UA doesn’t deserve to feel too proud.

    “”This is what we are supposed to be doing,”” Shelton said. “”As my mom told me long ago, you don’t get credit for doing things you’re supposed to do.””

    Also in his speech, Shelton urged faculty members to listen more to students, since students come from a generation with a different viewpoint on diversity.

    Students don’t see multiculturalism as a far-off idea or an experiment, the president said, but as a reality.

    Faculty members were also asked to include more diverse viewpoints in their areas of study and to support multicultural campus organizations.

    Shelton said he plans to work to make strides in hiring professors of different backgrounds and wants search committees for job appointments to be made up of people with differing backgrounds.

    Likins said he was pleased to hear Shelton’s commitment to inclusion and a diverse campus community. He said he had been worried about the state of campus inclusiveness after he left office.

    “”It’s wonderfully clear that it’s getting stronger under President Shelton,”” Likins said.

    The student recipient of the Likins award was Matthew Hall, a junior majoring in math and religious studies.

    The staff recipient was the Office of Minority Student Recruitment and Early Academic Outreach.

    Theodore G. Tong, associate dean of the College of Pharmacy and one of two faculty recipients of the award, lauded Likins as a great leader for diversity issues.

    “”What Peter Likins brought to our awareness, and what he lived in his own life, is to do the right thing,”” Tong said.

    Charles Tatum, dean of the College of Humanities, was the other faculty member honored.

    Aside from Shelton’s keynote address and presentation of the awards, yesterday’s events included a career networking expo for multicultural students and a screening of the movie “”God and Gays,”” also in the Gallagher Theater.

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