Free Speech Fridays

PACE Presents: Free Speech Fridays

Free Speech Fridays offer us the opportunity to put our First Amendment free speech rights into action. Sessions focus on controversial issues of wide interest and are free and open to the public. Our goal is to facilitate passionate but civil discussion that can empower participants to think for themselves. Free Speech Fridays provide one way that PACE, in the words of the program’s vision statement, “cultivates knowledge, develops leadership, and builds communication skills to prepare members of the IU community to take action for positive change.” Join us!

Guidelines for Free Speech Friday discussions:

  • All views are welcome, but please do your best to keep your comments civil, respectful, and focused on the content of the ideas raised and not the people who have raised them.
  • Listen to understand
  • Listen for common ground
  • When you disagree, do so with curiosity, not hostility
  • Refrain from interrupting
  • Keep your comments brief to maximize the participation of all speakers

Next Free Speech Friday

Friday, March 1, 2024:
"Senate Bill 202: Expanding Intellectual Diversity or Undermining Academic Freedom?"

by the red clock between Woodburn and Ballantine
12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m.

Free donuts!

A controversial piece of legislation on state higher education policy is headed for passage in the Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly. (The House and Senate have both approved the bill and now, once their respective versions are reconciled, the bill will go to the governor for his signature.) Sponsored by Sen. Spencer Deery (R-West Lafayette), Senate Bill 202 addresses what its supporters perceive as a hostile environment on state college campuses for conservative faculty and students. The bill mandates a wide range of measures for Indiana’s institutions of higher education, including IU:

  • To earn tenure or promotion, faculty must demonstrate that
    • They are committed to fostering a culture of “free inquiry, free expression, and intellectual diversity” on campus
    • They are exposing students to “scholarly works from a variety of political or ideological frameworks that may exist within and are applicable to the faculty member’s academic discipline”
    • They are not to subjecting students to “political or ideological views and opinions that are unrelated to the faculty member’s academic discipline or assigned course of instruction.”
  • To keep their tenure, faculty will have to show they have continued to demonstrate these commitments in a regular post-tenure review, every five years.
  • The university must create a process whereby students can file complaints against faculty who they believe are not meeting “intellectual diversity” criteria.    
  • The university must extend its commitment beyond “cultural” diversity, equity, and inclusion to include “intellectual diversity,” that is, a range of viewpoints and worldviews.
  • The university must adopt institutional and departmental neutrality on political, moral, or ideological issues.
  • The university should work to recruit and retain not only “minority” but also “underrepresented” students
  • Though no longer in the amended legislation, a provision of the original bill required the selection of some members of university boards of trustees by Indiana General Assembly legislative leaders

Assuming it becomes law, what will this bill mean for students, faculty, and staff at IU? Is there a real problem with lack of intellectual diversity and free expression on campus? Is there a value in expanding the range of acceptable viewpoints? Does it make sense to require faculty to teach a range of political or ideological frameworks on every topic? What is the goal of the legislation? Is it an attack on the academic freedom of faculty? Or will it expand our First Amendment freedoms? What is at stake for students?

Please join us for the discussion!

Contact us

Carl Weinberg
Teaching Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. of History
Director, PACE Institute for Role-Immersive Teaching and Learning (PIRTL)