Controversial Indiana Senate Bill SB202 Threatens Alumni Representation on IU Board of Trustees

Staff report

Indianapolis, IN – February 6, 2024

In a move that has sparked concern among alumni and students alike, Senate Bill No. 202 is currently pending in the Indiana General Assembly, raising eyebrows due to its potential impact on the composition of the Indiana University (IU) Board of Trustees. The bill, introduced on January 9, 2024, by Senators Deery, Raatz, Johnson T, Byrne, Donato, Crane, and Rogers, proposes significant changes to the appointment process for alumni-elected trustees, potentially undermining the democratic representation of IU graduates.

One of the most contentious aspects of the bill is the provision to replace two of IU’s three alumni-elected trustees with political appointees. Critics argue that this move, coupled with the conservative supermajority in the state legislature, could diminish diversity and balance within the IU Board of Trustees. With the possibility of losing alumni-elected representatives, concerns are mounting over the potential loss of authentic voices that truly represent the interests and perspectives of IU graduates.

The proposed changes are buried within the extensive bill, which primarily focuses on amending the duties of state educational institutions’ diversity committees. It outlines new requirements and restrictions for institutions concerning free inquiry, free expression, and intellectual diversity. Additionally, the bill calls for the establishment of a procedure for submitting complaints related to faculty members or contractors not meeting certain criteria, and it places restrictions on policies requiring allegiance to certain ideologies or political movements.

Furthermore, the bill introduces an alumni appointment to the boards of trustees of certain institutions, altering the appointment authority for alumni members. It specifies that a board member who is a state employee is entitled to reimbursement for traveling expenses and certain other expenses but is not entitled to per diem.

The controversial legislation passed a key hurdle on January 25, 2024, when it was amended and reported favorably by the Committee on Education and Career Development. It was read a second time on February 5, 2024. If passed, the bill will take effect upon passage, with some provisions becoming effective on July 1, 2024.

IU alumni and students are expressing their concerns over the potential impact of this bill, urging transparency and careful consideration of its consequences on the representation of alumni voices within the university’s governance. As the legislative process unfolds, stakeholders closely watch the developments, hoping for a fair and inclusive outcome for the IU community.

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