INAAUP Stands Firm Against Rushed Passage of SB 202 in Indiana Senate, Urges Governor Holcomb to Veto

Staff report

Indianapolis, Indiana— The Indiana State Conference of the American Association of University Professors (INAAUP) voiced strong opposition to the Indiana Senate’s swift approval of Senate Bill 202 (SB 202) today. The Republican-controlled Senate Leadership’s decision to expedite the passage of the controversial bill through a “concur and dissent” session has left faculty members dismayed.

SB 202, purportedly aimed at modernizing tenure, has drawn criticism from INAAUP President Dr. Moira Marsh, who stated, “This bill weakens tenure while claiming to protect and ‘modernize’ it. The cure Senator Deery has put forward will kill the patient.”


PRESS ADVISORY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 1, 2024

INAAUP strengthens resolve 

as Indiana Senate rushes SB 202 through final step
to move to Governor’s desk

Indianapolis, Indiana— The Indiana State Conference of the American Association of University Professors (INAAUP) expressed disappointment in the Indiana Senate’s choice today to pass the House’s version of Senate Bill 202.  The Republican Senate Leadership made an unusual decision to call a “concur and dissent” session of the Senate before completing its votes on existing legislation, a move designed to rush its high priority bills to the Governor before the end of this year’s short legislative session. 

INAAUP President Dr. Moira Marsh said, upon learning of the concurrence vote,  “This bill weakens tenure while claiming to protect and “modernize” it. Senator Deery says he wants to fix our public universities, but the cure he has put forward will kill the patient.” 

Purdue University Fort Wayne Director of the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and AAUP-Purdue Fort Wayne chapter president Dr. Steve Carr said, “The Indiana State Legislature was as wrong in passing SB 202 today as it was wrong 100 years ago when it passed the first eugenics legislation in the nation. The radical anti-DEI theocracy of SB 202 is nothing more than Eugenics 2.0.”

Some colleagues connected the push on this bill to other political hay for the supermajority legislature.  Zorn Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Seppo Niemi-Colvin (Department of Mathematics, Indiana University-Bloomington) said, “Since the IU Bloomington administration canceled the exhibition of Palestinian-American artist Samia Halaby from the Eskenazi Museum of Art over vague and unsubstantiated security concerns, the Eskenazi School of Art and Design has already had three artists withdraw from their visiting artist series. I worry that if SB 202 does not get vetoed, concerns over “intellectual diversity” will be the new “security concerns” and harm Indiana universities similarly.”

Colleagues at Purdue and IU fear this bill will diminish their reputation as world-renowned research universities. Robert Eno, retired professor of East Asian Language and Cultures at IU, explained: “Purdue and IU are each #1 in one of the four categories used to rank universities nationally. No state has a more outstanding leadership profile than Indiana. Laws like SB202 passed in other states have had disastrous impacts on the ability to attract top talent to public research universities. No state has more to lose by adopting such a law than Indiana. It took a century to build Indiana’s leadership in higher education. We need to protect the future of our state by managing the disagreements we have today without letting them destroy the work of generations of Hoosiers.”

The Senate’s vote to concur with the House’s version of S.B. 202 on Thursday afternoon was an outcome that so many stakeholders fought to prevent.  Taken aback by the Republican supermajority’s decision to ignore its promise to not undertake culture war bills in this year’s short session, faculty at state universities nonetheless galvanized colleagues, students, families and allies from every corner of Indiana in just two weeks to pressure the Legislature to vote down this bill.  Typically preoccupied with class preparation and student assignments, professors juggled their regular responsibilities with protesting this bill by calling local town halls, driving hours to come to the Statehouse and talk with legislators, calling prospective employers of students, requesting administrators take a stand, and working through the democratic processes of their faculty councils and senates to speak overwhelmingly against SB202.   

StopSB202 campaign lead Dr. Alice Pawley (professor of engineering education, College of Engineering, Purdue-West Lafayette), said “It is really incredible what colleagues across the state have done in these few short weeks that we’ve been organizing.  People quickly mobilized their expertise, writing skills, teaching experience, and networks of colleagues, to join together to produce a well-founded, empirically-sound and grounded argument to legislators.  We’ve moved hundreds of academics, students, parents, alumni, employers, and members of the public to side with strong public higher education in Indiana, with clear divisions of responsibility between faculty, administration, and Boards, and with keeping the Legislature’s politics out of university classrooms. I’m proud of what everyone has accomplished this February, and we will be that much stronger when the next legislative session comes around… because we know this kind of political fight isn’t done.”

Faculty and students now target Governor Holcomb, whose term ends this year, and who is term-limited from seeking reelection.  Appealing to his principled nature and his pro-economic stance for the state, opponents of SB 202 are already sending hundreds of calls and emails to the Governor’s office, despite institutional hurdles of no voicemail on the Governor’s phone number, and having to complete a lengthy form to send an email.

Prof. Sheron Fraser-Burgess (Professor of Social Foundations of Education and Multicultural Education, Ball State University) of BSUAAUP’s steering committee said: “Young people and their families of Indiana deserve better from their legislators, who should put their educational interests first. We will fight to make this message the one that endures.” Jennifer Erickson, Professor of Anthropology and co-President of BSUAAUP, adds: “This bill undercuts academic freedom, a privilege and protection that distinguishes professors from our K-12 teacher colleagues, and will especially punish professors who speak truth to power.” 

The Indiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors (INAAUP) promotes cooperation among AAUP chapters at Indiana institutions of higher education. It works for the betterment of higher education in the state through promoting academic freedom, shared governance, and the rights of faculty.  

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), with over 50,000 members and 500 local chapters, champions academic freedom; advances shared governance; and organizes to promote economic security for all academic professionals. Since 1915, the AAUP has shaped American higher education by developing standards and procedures that uphold quality education.

Contact: 

Alice Pawley, campaign lead, [email protected], 7654270923

Moira Marsh, INAAUP State Conference President, [email protected], 8123200536

Steven Alan Carr, AAUP-Purdue Fort Wayne Chapter President, [email protected], 2602556423General questions: [email protected]

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