Legislators Demand Answers about Intelligent Design Ban at Ball State University

Indianapolis—Four state legislators led by Senate Education Committee Chair Dennis Kruse (R–Auburn) have sent a letter to Ball State University’s (BSU) President and Board of Trustees expressing serious concerns about the university’s treatment of BSU physicist Eric Hedin and its imposition of a speech code censoring faculty speech on intelligent design.

Prof. Hedin previously taught an honors course on the “Boundaries of Science” which briefly discussed the idea that nature displays evidence of intelligent design, but the course was removed from BSU’s course schedule for Spring Semester 2014 following a controversial investigation that operated outside of normal procedures.

In their letter, legislators expressed concerns “about whether improper procedures were followed while investigating Prof. Eric Hedin’s course, and whether an ad hoc committee appointed to investigate him was filled with persons with conflicts of interest…We are also concerned about the cancellation of Hedin’s class and the policy you announced last summer restricting faculty speech on intelligent design. We are disturbed by reports that while you restrict faculty speech on intelligent design, BSU authorized a seminar that teaches ‘Science Must Destroy Religion.’

Your policy banning professors from expressing their views on intelligent design raises many troubling questions. One of the most important is: Does the policy forbid science professors from explaining either their support or rejection of intelligent design in answer to student questions about intelligent design in class?”

The legislators promised to send additional questions to BSU in coming weeks. The legislators’ letter comes after nearly 10,000 people signed a petition urging BSU to allow academic freedom for Prof. Hedin.

“Thus far BSU has refused to answer many questions about its mistreatment of Prof. Hedin,” said Discovery Institute attorney Joshua Youngkin. “BSU even recently filed a complaint with the Public Access Counselor to delay disclosing emails requested under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act. It’s time for BSU to stop stonewalling.”

“Senator Kruse and his fellow legislators are to be applauded for investigating BSU’s actions violating academic freedom and open discussion,” added Donald McLaughlin, Discovery Institute’s Indiana representative and an alumnus of Ball State.

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Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.