March 1, 2024

Tenure bill heads to the governor’s desk

Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) delivered remarks against SB 202, saying it would undermine academic freedom.  - Indiana General Assembly livestream

Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) delivered remarks against SB 202, saying it would undermine academic freedom.

Indiana General Assembly livestream

The higher education bill that academics say guts tenure protections heads to the desk of Gov. Eric Holcomb.

It passed the Senate Thursday 33 to 12.

Senate Bill 202 allows university trustees to fire or demote tenured faculty for failing to foster what it calls “intellectual diversity” in their classes. It does codify some tenure protections, however, for professors who speak on politics outside the classroom or criticize university administrations.

Although the bill has been criticized by faculty and free speech organizations as well as Indiana University, its author Sen. Spencer Deery (R-West Lafayette) called it a win for academic freedom.

“While some Indiana public universities are already thriving on those grounds, this bill will empower them to improve with minimal disruption or inconvenience to how they already operate,” he said.

Sen. Shelley Yoder (D-Bloomington) whose district includes IU’s flagship campus told the Senate that she’d never heard more criticism of a bill from her constituents.

“It's really undermining free speech and academic freedom in every state institution in Indiana,” she said.

The governor’s signature is the last step required for the bill to become law.

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