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New Indiana higher ed law mandates intellectual diversity, enacts post-tenure review

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday signed a sweeping higher education reform bill that cracks down on mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion ideologies, requires intellectual diversity, and puts in place post-tenure review.

The legislation was strongly opposed by faculty groups and left-leaning academic associations, accusing it of being too vaguely written and suggesting progressive professors will be fired under the new law. “Faculty and students overwhelmingly contended Senate Enrolled Act 202 would micromanage their institutions and have a ‘chilling effect’ on free expression,” the Herald-Times reported.

But in a written statement provided to Indiana media outlets, Holcomb downplayed such claims the day he signed the bill into law.

“The bill requires free inquiry and civil discourse programming for new students, strongly encourages academic freedom and protects faculty to express differing viewpoints from their colleagues and university leadership,” he stated. “…I have faith in our public universities to faithfully implement this law to foster the successful growth and intellectual vibrancy of academia while protecting the rights of all individuals.”

The new law bans mandatory diversity statements in hiring, admissions, and promotion decisions.

It also limits the granting of tenure or promotion to a scholar who has not allowed free expression and intellectual diversity — and it allows for a review every five years to ensure a tenured professor is fostering such freedoms. Universities must also create a procedure that allows students and employees to submit complaints for faculty who do not allow intellectual diversity.

What’s more, the law requires that campus diversity programming include “intellectual diversity” and administrators enforce disciplinary consequences for those who “materially and substantially disrupt” events, its summary states.

“Indiana just sent a strong signal that our state is committed to academic freedom, free expression and intellectual diversity for all students and faculty,” stated Republican state State Sen. Spencer Deery, who co-authored Senate Bill 202, in a news release.

“Universities that fail to foster intellectually diverse communities that challenge both teachers and learners fail to reach their potential. This measured bill makes it significantly less likely that any university will shortchange our students in that way,” he said.

MORE: Ohio House overrides DeWine’s veto of bill restricting transgender sports, sex changes

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.