As we celebrate the success of the 2015 conference and our attention turns to the 98th NASPA Annual Conference slated to be held in Indianapolis, the NASPA Board is very concerned about the legislation signed into law today in Indiana. SB101, a bill that protects business owners with strong religious beliefs from government intrusion, was passed by both the Indiana House and Senate and was signed this morning by Governor Pence. The provisions of this bill license discrimination and are contrary to NASPA's guiding principles of integrity, innovation, inclusion, and inquiry.
We also acknowledge that this is a national issue. Currently 19 states, including Indiana, have passed similar legislation in recent years. The potential discrimination in all of these states raises serious concerns for all of us who believe so deeply in social justice.
We are fundamentally opposed to SB101 and the NASPA Board of Directors will submit a letter to Governor Pence expressing our disagreement with his decision to sign this legislation. We applaud Greg Ballard, the mayor of Indianapolis, who has publicly expressed disapproval, noting that the legislation does not represent the capital city.
The theme of the 2016 NASPA Annual Conference is Common Purpose: Shaping a Vision for Higher Education. We believe that our common purpose is to educate and engage students to create a society which celebrates equity, inclusion, and social justice. As an organization that represents over 1,400 postsecondary institutions, we recognize that there are serious societal issues that warrant consideration and debate. We need to continue the ongoing dialogue and remain aligned with the educational mission of our association for the community, our members, and the students we serve.
We are monitoring the situation in Indiana closely and will consider a range of options affirming our commitment that every member should experience the conference without fear of discrimination.
NASPA Board Chair
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Fresno State University
Frank E. Ross, III
2016 NASPA Annual Conference Chair
Vice President for Student Affairs, Northeastern Illinois University