LETTER: SB 202: Threat to the future of our education

Headshot of Kathleen Marrs
Headshot of Kathleen Marrs

SB 202 (State educational institution matters) states that it was proposed for the following: "[Bill] amends the duties of state educational institutions' diversity committees. Provides that certain offices or individuals established or employed by a state educational institution regarding diversity programming must include within the mission of the office or position programming that substantially promotes both cultural and intellectual diversity. Establishes various requirements and restrictions for institutions regarding free inquiry, free expression, and intellectual diversity."

Dear faculty colleagues, students, staff and fellow Hoosiers,

As someone deeply connected to IUPUI and our campus community, it's crucial to be aware of the impending vote on Indiana Senate Bill 202 likely to happen on Feb. 27. This bill poses a significant threat to our higher education system throughout the state.

Why worry? SB 202 could impact us in multiple ways 

SB 202 proposes new roles that jeopardize free speech, politicize tenure, foster suspicion and surveillance on campus, inhibit DEI initiatives and stifle academic freedom–these are just a few of the potential consequences if SB 202 becomes law.

The core of higher education: Nurturing diverse perspectives 

I have taught thousands of students at IUPUI, and, contrary to what SB 202 implies, the essence of university education lies in the exchange of diverse ideas and critical thinking. Our mission as faculty is to empower all students with critical thinking skills that prepare them for a world valuing diverse perspectives. SB 202 puts this mission at risk, threatening the strength of our university, community and state.

Take action now: Your role in protecting our university 

Legislation similar to SB 202 has negatively impacted public education in other states like Texas and Florida. SB 202 also contains actions that violate the civil rights of our students, staff and faculty. I would encourage you to consider the following steps:

  1. Educate Yourself: Explore the Indiana AAUP resource page for more information. 

  2. Make your views known to your State Rep by Tuesday 2/27. Whether you support or oppose SB 202, visit the Action Network - take a few minutes to call and make your thoughts known. 

  3. Support Civil Rights: Read the University Alliance for Racial Justice‘s statement here and consider signing the petition on the Statement on the Civil Rights Impact of SB 202 here

Numbers don't lie: The economic impact at stake 

Beyond being centers of learning, where students can participate in research, community service, and take interesting courses in hundreds of majors, institutions like IUPUI are economic powerhouses driving Indiana's success.  IU alone generated $9.9 billion in added income for Indiana in 2019-2020, and IU grads make up 1 in 26 jobs in our state. That's an excellent return on investment. By weakening the rights of faculty and students alike, SB 202 jeopardizes this success, potentially impacting college completion, jobs, future earnings, and the overall economic health of our state.

Faculty at Indiana University, and at our campus in particular, are a crucial source of research, statewide medical and healthcare infrastructure, contributions in arts and humanities, community engagement and state workforce development, all of which lead to student success and contribute significantly to state economic growth.   Our efforts make a real difference in seeing this important work continue in Indiana. Our education system and state economy deserve more than what SB 202 offers.  

Thank you,

Dr. Kathleen A. Marrs

Professor of Biology, Adjunct Professor, Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, IUPUI

Note: This letter reflects only the views of the author, who is speaking independently as a faculty member, but not speaking on behalf of Indiana University or The Campus Citizen.

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