Archive for Thursday, May 1, 2003

Senator changes sex-class strategy

Wagle opts for narrowing attack instead of overriding veto

May 1, 2003


— Sen. Susan Wagle said Wednesday she had abandoned an attempt to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of a provision aimed at cutting funds to Kansas University because of a human sexuality class.

But Wagle said she would try something else.

Wagle, R-Wichita, said she would try to insert a proviso on the Legislature's final budget bill that would somehow deal with the content of Professor Dennis Dailey's course.

Wagle said she had no details on what her proposal might be as lawmakers started the wrap-up session.

"It isn't written yet," she said.

Wagle conceded she didn't have the necessary 27 votes, or two-thirds majority, in the 40-member Senate to override Sebelius' veto.

Last month, Wagle authored an amendment to a budget bill that would have cut $3.1 million in state funding to the KU School of Social Welfare if it was determined that obscene materials were used in the human sexuality class.

Wagle has said that Dailey uses pornographic materials and has made inappropriate comments to female students. KU has denied the allegations.

The amendment was approved by the Senate, 24-13, with three senators not voting. But Sebelius line-item vetoed the amendment, saying the Kansas Board of Regents -- not the Legislature -- should mediate disputes about course content.

Wagle said the alternative amendment probably would focus solely on the human sexuality course and not the entire School of Social Welfare.

Also on Wednesday, Wagle said she went public with her accusations, in part, because a student who complained about Dailey's course was rebuffed by KU's ombudsman.

She said the ombudsman had said, "We don't take those complaints. You have to talk with the professor."

Robert Shelton, KU's ombudsman and an associate professor of religious studies, said all his dealings with students and instructors must be kept confidential.

In general, he said, when students come to him about problems, he suggests ways to deal with it, including having the student talk to the instructor about the problem.

"I discuss a number of options and what procedures are available to them," he said.

Sen. Mark Buhler, R-Lawrence, said he had heard enough squawking about Dailey's human sexuality class.

"The Legislature is not the appropriate place for this issue," Buhler said Wednesday. "The thing that struck me the day this came up in the Senate was how we accused, tried and convicted both (Dailey) and the university. That is not our role -- I'm not a judge."

Buhler said he'd been inundated with letters and e-mails in support of Dailey and the class.

"It's overwhelmingly supportive," he said.

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