Governor Refuses to Meet with Civil Rights Leaders on the Racism of SB 202

Written from press release

Indianapolis, IN – March 5, 2024

Governor Eric Holcomb of Indiana has declined a meeting request from a coalition of civil rights, faith-based, and professional associations seeking to address concerns about the alleged racist implications of Senate Bill 202 (SB 202), according to a press release. The group, comprised of prominent figures such as Indiana NAACP’s President Sadie Harper-Scott and Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis leader Pastor David Greene, aimed to discuss the bill’s impact on Indiana’s Black community.

The coalition expressed deep disappointment at the Governor’s refusal, highlighting the urgency of addressing what they deem a direct assault on civil rights. Pastor David Greene emphasized the bill’s discriminatory nature, stating, “In what it targets—diversity, equity, and inclusion—and who it targets—Black university faculty—SB 202 is clearly racist.” Greene expressed surprise at the Governor’s reluctance to engage in a dialogue on the potentially harmful consequences of the proposed legislation.

The request for a meeting follows the release of the “Statement on the Civil Rights Impact of SB 202,” endorsed by over 1000 Hoosier residents and 68 state organizations, pointing out the bill’s discriminatory implications. President Harper-Scott stated, “Our leaders don’t seem to recognize how SB 202 turns Indiana back towards its deeply racist past… but the citizens of Indiana certainly do.”

The coalition and the statement outline several concerns:

  • SB 202 explicitly targets Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts within universities.
  • The bill requires universities to report annually on spending related to DEI instruction.
  • Allegations that the term “intellectual diversity” in the bill is a veiled attack on DEI, with evidence linking it to a similar Florida bill.
  • Concerns that the bill unfairly targets faculty of color through reporting systems for alleged violations.
  • Assertions that SB 202 undermines recent efforts by Indiana universities to diversify student and faculty populations.

Professor Emeritus Russ Skiba, co-founder of the University Alliance for Racial Justice, highlighted the broader implications of SB 202, stating, “It’s critical to understand that all these sanctions are primarily designed to keep faculty from talking about racism and discrimination.”

Despite the Governor’s refusal, civil rights leaders, including Rabbi Aaron Spiegel, Executive Director of the Greater Indianapolis Multifaith Alliance, remain steadfast in their opposition to SB 202. Spiegel stated, “In the face of a clearly racist bill, we will—we must—continue to call out its impact.”

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