GW decided this summer to allow full-time employees who live in on-campus housing to share their apartments with their domestic partners. The new policy applies to both homosexual couples who are in a committed relationship and heterosexual couples who previously were prevented from living together unless they were married.
The University should be commended for joining the growing ranks of colleges and universities that allow the domestic partners of their employees to live on campus.
Unlike some schools, however, GW does not offer its employees’ domestic partners the benefits it extends to employees’ spouses – health insurance, tuition benefits and life insurance. Regardless, the housing policy is a step in the right direction and demonstrates that GW respects its skilled employees’ various non-traditional lifestyles.
With national unemployment at its lowest level in more than two decades, GW made the decision based on the tight pool of candidates looking for jobs in higher education administration. Many qualified applicants asked if GW offered domestic partner benefits, and when they were told GW had no such benefits, they would go to other schools that did. With its new policy, the University aims to attract and hold on to a larger number of qualified candidates for employment in its student services division.
Nationwide, the subject of fringe benefits for an employee’s domestic partner is a hot topic. As society recognizes the existence of alternative lifestyles, employers slowly have become more respectful of different lifestyle choices. Life insurance, health insurance and other benefits for domestic partners are increasingly offered by companies. GW’s extension of campus housing to its employees’ partners is a good initial step. Perhaps in the near future, the University will begin to include other types of benefits.