CLICK HERE :View Indiana House Democrats' 2024 Economic Freedom Agenda.

Smith opposes higher education reform bill, fears it will stifle diversity initiatives

IBLC, News & Media, Media Releases, News & Media Featured

Yesterday, Feb. 21, the House Education Committee passed Senate Bill 202 by a vote of 8-4. The bill seeks to promote “intellectual diversity” and poses grave risks to university faculty and tenured professors. SB 202 restructures the appointment of university boards of trustees, tenure and promotion policies and requires that “intellectual diversity” be factored into faculty reviews, tenure consideration and recruitment policies. 

Last week, the committee heard hours of testimony from faculty and leadership from Indiana’s universities who fear that the bill will stifle intellectual inquiry and freedom of speech. 

“As a tenured full professor at Indiana University Northwest, this bill is deeply troubling to me,” State Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) said. “Faculty at Indiana’s universities are already evaluated every year on not only our teaching and research, but our service to our department, service to the campus, service to our community, service to the state and service to the nation. An extra tenure review by the Board of Trustees every 5 years to evaluate 'intellectual diversity' is simply unnecessary. 

“Diversity implies something totally different than being receptive to various opinions. The central purpose of American education is to create a thinking individual. This bill will stifle the ability of teachers to challenge students' ideas and get them to see other perspectives. 

“Comparing the concept of holding unpopular opinions to the experience of being a minority student or faculty member is disgraceful, and discredits the very real hardships that exist for students and faculty of color. Diversity, equity and inclusion policies on college campuses are essential to making sure that Black or brown students and faculty feel welcome, are treated justly and represented equitably. I fear that this bill will hurt the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body and faculty. 

“When I was in college, I had a professor announce on the first day of classes that ‘the best grade you could get was a “D” if you were a Negro.’ I was forced to sit through a lecture about ‘why Negros are inferior to whites.’ I was denied entry to restaurants because of the color of my skin. Not to mention the violence I experienced being stoned by a group of white boys when I was just 12 years old. These are the kinds of scenarios that we need to be concerned about and precisely why diversity initiatives are so important on college campuses. 

“I don’t think the system is broken, but I think this bill risks breaking it.”

Share Article