Human rights decision prompts Truman president to speak out

Truman State University President Dr. Troy Paino has entered the discussion of a proposed human rights ordinance in the city of Kirksville.

In a letter addressed to the council members, Dr. Paino says he fears the councilâ??s rejection of the ordinance, along with subsequent news coverage, makes the Kirksville community appear â??unwelcoming and exclusionary.â?? Dr. Paino also said that to continue to recruit quality faculty, staff and students, he feels it is important to send a message on inclusion.

"As a lot of the debate has been going on concerning the non discrimination ordinance Iâ??ve been fairly busy with some other things as it relates to the university. After the July 1 vote I grew increasingly concerned about the image of Kirksville as a result of that vote. As you know, it's very important for Truman to be able to recruit students, faculty and staff of all stripes," Dr. Paino said.

"I just was concerned that Kirksville would be getting the wrong impression as a result of that vote and I think itâ??s important for Kirksville to send a strong message that it is an inclusive community where all are welcomed and valued."

He said that before he wrote the letter, faculty and students approached him about the ordinance.

â??Several faculty, students and staff contacted me in a variety of ways. I've met with a few in my office to talk about their own concerns and what this means to them, so I have had those conversations," Dr. Paino said.

He said he understands this is a difficult issue.

â??I have the deepest respect for our city council and for our mayor and everyone who is involved with the city government here,â?? Dr. Paino said.

â??Itâ??s a very difficult job and this is a very difficult issue, so I certainly appreciate that those who have to cast their vote on this matter need to take time to discuss it and need to understand the issues fully. I donâ??t think is going to be the end of the world if it doesnâ??t get brought up for a vote, but I do think itâ??s important that in the very near future we get this matter settled so that we can feel good about how we are projecting our image to the outside world.â??

A proposed human rights ordinance discussion is on the agenda for Monday afternoonâ??s council study session. The study session will begin at 4:30 in the Economic Development Alliance building, formerly the TCRC building, at 315 S. Franklin.

Previous stories....

Proposal to protect gays defeated but not dead

Kirksville Council votes down proposed human rights commission

City council agenda item sparks rally