Members of the University of St. Thomas staff and faculty will not be able to share a room with an unmarried partner when on official trips, the university announced Wednesday.
The Rev. Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas, said in a prepared statement that the policy was written to "maintain the integrity of the university's Catholic nature and faithfulness to its Catholic mission" in matters of marriage and sexuality.
The policy was to take effect immediately, but it's not likely to silence the controversy that has surrounded the university's travel policy for its employees.
In December, it became the center of a campus debate after two professors who live together as unmarried, heterosexual partners were told they needed separate rooms if they were to travel on a school trip with students.
Last spring, a choral director at the university was told she couldn't share a room with her lesbian partner on a university trip.
While the university acknowledged its official policy on the matter was unclear, it strongly defended its decision in those two cases. That prompted several faculty members in March to tell Dease that some on campus feared they weren't welcome because they weren't Roman Catholic or didn't completely agreed with Catholic doctrine.
Those concerns may continue.
In his announcement, Dease acknowledged that feeling ran deep on the issue "because various values under consideration are extraordinarily important."
He stressed the policy only applied to travel with students on university sponsored trips. It "is not about the private lives or consciences of faculty and staff," he wrote.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)