A bill in the Ohio Senate aims to stop diversity and equity training for faculty and students at state colleges and universities.

Senate Bill (SB) 83 known as the Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act introduced by State Senator Jerry Cirino, (R-Kirtland) would eliminate the need for professor, staff, or student participation in diversity, equity, or inclusion training or courses. It would also create transparency for all tasks and compulsory and suggested reading.

“I consulted with leadership at many of these institutions, and a variety of other experts, to make sure we have a plan that is both practical and ambitious, with the best interests of students as our top concern. This sweeping and exhaustively detailed legislation is meant to ensure students get what they pay for – a world-class education that will give them top value in the workforce and the tools needed to help them succeed in life,” Cirino said.

The legislation would also require intellectual diversity in college and university classrooms and among the faculty, free speech protections for students, faculty, and staff, and no political and ideological “litmus tests” in all hiring, promotion, and admission decisions.

“This bill will move us toward true academic freedom. We need students to be taught how to think not what to think. Now, more than ever, it is vital to preserve the credibility and confidence in our state universities, four-year colleges, and community colleges, by making sure they are not straying from their core mission of education,” Cirino said.

Each state college or university would also have to create mission statements that include five concepts:

  •  It will educate students by means of free, open, and rigorous intellectual inquiry to seek the truth.
  •  Its duty is to equip students with the intellectual skills they need to reach their own, informed conclusions on matters of social and political importance.
  • Its duty to ensure that no aspect of life, outside or within the classroom, requires, favors, disfavors or prohibits speech or action to support any political, social, or religious belief.
  •  It is committed to create a community dedicated to an ethic of civil and free inquiry, which respects the autonomy of each member, supports individual capacities for growth, and tolerates the differences in opinion that naturally occur in higher education.
  •  Its duty is to treat all faculty, staff, and students as individuals, to hold them to equal standards, and to provide them equality of opportunity.

Furthermore, the legislation mandates that all higher education institutions in Ohio must disclose all donations from the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army, or any other outpost or associate of the People’s Republic of China.

This bill expands on Cirino’s free speech bill SB 135 that Governor Mike DeWine signed into law last July. That bill included free speech protections for students concerned that expressing their opinions in class might hurt their grades.

SB 83 has been introduced in the Ohio Senate it has not yet been assigned to a committee.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Jerry Cirino” by State Senator Jerry Cirino. Background Photo “College Classroom” by Dom Fou.