Protesters Rally at Indiana University’s Kinsey Statue, Defend Kinsey Institute Against Separation Threat

Video by Jeremy Hogan – The Bloomingtonian

Staff report

Bloomington, Indiana – November 8, 2023

A group of concerned Indiana University professors, professors Emeritus, community members, and students gathered at the Alfred Kinsey statue on campus as part of a protest against the university’s plan to separate the renowned Kinsey Institute from the institution. The protest took place ahead of a crucial vote by the Indiana board of trustees, who were set to decide whether to proceed with the separation during their meetings in Indianapolis later in the week.

Jen Bass, one of the organizers of the protest, addressed the gathering. She expressed the group’s dismay at the university’s decision to potentially sever ties with the Kinsey Institute and presented a scroll containing over 5,500 names of alumni, donors, students, community members, and others who were concerned about this move. She stressed the importance of preserving the long-standing relationship between the institute and Indiana University.

The signatures were later delivered to the office of Indiana University President Pamela Whitten.

Bass highlighted the history of the Kinsey Institute, dating back to 1947, and the core values of respect and academic freedom that have underpinned this relationship. She emphasized the need to maintain this connection and protect the institute’s mission.

Stephanie Sanders, Chair of Indiana University’s Gender Studies Department, and a Kinsey Institute Senior Scientist, a long-time advocate for the Kinsey Institute, spoke about the significance of the institute’s work and its integration with the university in 2016. She expressed her concerns about the potential separation and stressed the importance of defending academic and intellectual freedom against state intervention and political agendas.

Ann Jones, a participant in the protest, emphasized the broader societal impact of the Kinsey Institute’s work, particularly in the field of sexual health and education. She described the institute’s role in advancing understanding and acceptance of diverse sexual orientations and identities. Jones viewed this issue as deeply religious and believed it was about acknowledging and celebrating who people are.

IU professor William Yarber, who is famous for his work in AIDS/STD prevention research, underscored the symbolism of the Kinsey Institute and how it had distinguished Indiana University as a place for free inquiry, particularly in the study of human sexuality. He lamented the potential loss of this symbol if the separation were to proceed.

A current IU student majoring in gender studies and psychology expressed their disappointment at the possibility of defunding the Kinsey Institute, as it was a significant factor in their decision to attend the university. They believed that this move would not only harm current students but also tarnish the university’s history and reputation.

Another speaker questioned the drastic change in the university’s stance on the Kinsey Institute, highlighting the positive comments made just a year earlier about the institute’s contributions to the university’s reputation.

“What I don’t understand is how can someone go from a year ago saying that the Kinsey Institute bolsters Indiana’s reputation to then a year later wanting to remove that thing, which bolsters Indiana’s Indiana University’s reputation? I think that I think that that needs to be answered. I think that there is quite a bit of distrust on the part of both faculty and students on why this move would even be made,” said the speaker. “And I definitely think that she (President Pamela Whitten) needs to fill in the gap between what happened a year ago and today.”

The event featured a presentation of a scroll containing thousands of names of individuals supporting the Kinsey Institute, some of whom are major donors to IU, and the organizers expressed their desire for the trustees and the university president to see the support from the community and university stakeholders.

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Indiana University professor William Barber stands next to the Kinsey statue behind Lindley Hall at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote on whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Indiana University professor William Barber talks to Ann Jones near the Kinsey statue behind Lindley Hall at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Protesters unfurl a scroll with 5500 petition signatures against a plan to separate the Kinsey Institute from IU, next to the Kinsey statue behind Lindley Hall at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Protesters unfurl a scroll with 5500 petition signatures against a plan to separate the Kinsey Institute from IU, next to the Kinsey statue behind Lindley Hall at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Protesters unfurl a scroll with 5500 petition signatures against a plan to separate the Kinsey Institute from IU, next to the Kinsey statue behind Lindley Hall at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Protesters unfurl a scroll with 5500 petition signatures against a plan to separate the Kinsey Institute from IU, next to the Kinsey statue behind Lindley Hall at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Protesters unfurl a scroll with 5500 petition signatures against a plan to separate the Kinsey Institute from IU, next to the Kinsey statue behind Lindley Hall at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Protesters unfurl a scroll with 5500 petition signatures against a plan to separate the Kinsey Institute from IU, next to the Kinsey statue behind Lindley Hall at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Protester Jen Bass unfurls a scroll with 5500 petition signatures against a plan to separate the Kinsey Institute from IU, near a statue of Alfred Kinsey at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: The statue of Alfred Kinsey at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Protester Jen Bass unfurls a scroll with 5500 petition signatures against a plan to separate the Kinsey Institute from IU, in the office of President Pamela Whitten at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: Protester Jen Bass unfurls a scroll with 5500 petition signatures against a plan to separate the Kinsey Institute from IU, in the office of President Pamela Whitten at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

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