Thursday, August 24, 2006

Things That Would Be Nice

I'm not particularly opposed to domestic partner benefits, but I have some questions about today's story about a UW researcher who supposedly is leaving because the university won't offer benefits to his boyfriend. The story that appeared essentially reads as a UW press release, and doesn't provide some obvious information that it should. So here are some things that it would have been nice if the story included.

It would have been nice if the story included information about Rob Carpick's salary, which is currently $90,000. What will he be making at his new job? Isn't that relevant to why he's leaving? If he's getting a $100,000 raise at Penn, isn't that somewhat relevant?

It would have been nice if the story explained why, in a time when most Wisconsin residents are struggling with health care costs, we should be concerned about the boyfriend of a guy making $90,000 who's not willing to pay for health care. In fact, his boyfriend, Carlos Chan, is healthy and able to work, and actually already gets health care from the UW! The catch is, he actually has to work there, but he does so "reluctantly." Note to Carlos - if you don't want to work there, I want my tax money back. Oh, and incidentally, Carlos was working in the same department as Carpick - gee, I wonder how he got that job? They take a self described "cook," and give him a job as an "Instructional Specialist" in the engineering department. I'm sure that's a pure coincidence.

It would have been nice if the story recognized that often times, people leave the UW for reasons other than what they publicly state. Remember Luoluo Hong? She was the UW employee who left for the University of Arizona, and at the time claimed she was leaving because the UW doesn't provide domestic partner benefits (she is straight), and because the state doesn't provide the UW with enough money (although Arizona provides even less). As we found out later, Hong actually left because Paul Barrows was playing grab ass and making work an untenable situation for her. So obviously, when she told the UW-Madison she was leaving, they had her cook up this cockamamie story about why she was leaving, which of course the press at the time swallowed whole (I, however, did not.)

It would have been nice if the article mentioned that Carpick's new employer, Penn, is a private university, and therefore can offer whatever kind of benefits it wants. Obviously, things are different at a public school like UW-Madison, where public taxpayer dollars are involved. Also, since Penn is private, there may be certain research that is allowed that wouldn't be allowed with public dollars. Plus, Penn is an Ivy League school, which certainly confers status to researchers - are we to believe that had nothing to do with his leaving?

It would have been nice if the newspaper didn't show in its headline that it is so blatantly in this guy's corner ("Promising UW researcher leaving over domestic partner benefits.") Obviously, this isn't the writer's fault, since each paper writes its own headlines. But when was the last time you saw a newspaper refer to someone as a "promising pro-life advocate," or a "promising gun rights supporter?" To newspapers, anyone willing to rip Republicans obviously shows "promise."

I'm not buying this guy's story at all. It may have been inconvenient for his partner to have to pay for his own health care, but is it really enough to leave a tenured job that pays you $90k to move to the east coast? It looks like the UW bent over backwards to help him out - even giving his partner a meaningless job in his department just so he could collect benefits. Plus, the UW has a history of fabricating reasons why its faculty is leaving. It would be nice if someone actually researched the story, rather than regurgitating what the UW tells them to. Ryan Foley is actually a really good reporter, but he's better than this.