Press release: The Indiana University Board of Trustees Has Learned Nothing about Shared Governance

The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian by the AAUP:

For Immediate Release
July 7, 2024

The Indiana University Board of Trustees Has Learned Nothing about Shared Governance

Faculty from IU campuses across the state have called on the IU Board of Trustees (BOT) and IU Administration to slow their hasty push for new regulations governing free speech on IU campuses. The BOT’s lengthy draft policy on “expressive activity” was made public on June 21, provided only three weeks for comment, and declared that new rules must be in place by August 1.

Leaders of individual IU campus chapters of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) call on the BOT to slow this rushed process, which goes against IU’s long tradition of transparent shared governance by not allowing ample time for IU staff, faculty, students, and the public to participate as equal partners.

The Executive Committees of several AAUP campus chapters have issued the statement on the last page of this document.

Dr. Moira Marsh, President of the Indiana Conference of the AAUP, said: “IU has well-established systems for governing itself that have worked well for decades. The Trustees are bypassing shared governance, and I fear this unreasonable and unnecessary haste will lead to trouble.”

Dr. Jake Mattox, President of the IU South Bend chapter of the AAUP, said: “Much of the recent crisis was in fact caused by administration bypassing the basics of healthy shared governance, meeting secretly and at night to change longstanding policy. The very fact that the BOT thinks it’s OK to change policy this way, and this fast, illustrates its disturbing lack of understanding of how a healthy public university should function.”

Dr. Alisa Clapp-Itnyre, President of the IU East chapter of the AAUP, added: “As the mother of a daughter at IU Bloomington who was politically active there, I was horrified by IUB administration’s actions in bringing in state police in riot gear in April to assault peaceful protestors. The new policy opens too many possibilities of students innocently protesting but missing a new rule that could get them arrested or treated in similar ways in the future. We need time to think through—and get student input—on any new policy which will affect them. Ultimately, this policy should be for protecting students’ First Amendment right of free speech.”

Dr. Laverne Nishihara, IU East, added: “The draft Expressive Activity Policy places IU at risk of attracting more nationwide media criticism, such as what appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education and The New York Times following the Dunn Meadow protests. It is imperative to allow more time to construct a policy that upholds academic freedom and free speech rights and that earns a consensus agreement among the constituencies across IU.”

Bob Eno, past president of the IU Bloomington chapter of the AAUP, said: “Existing IU policy on expressive activities is clear and effective. It establishes principles and rules that served the university with uninterrupted success for over half a century, until this administration’s abrupt and unilateral violations of policy led to scenes of violence, injury, and arrests. The administration has made no case for replacing the current policy. Judging from its draft plan it now intends to codify its own ad hoc policy violations, justified by a perfunctory and opaque process of consultation.”

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.

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