Last week, state Senator Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) issued the following statement after the Ohio Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 83, the highly controversial “Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act.”
“We must call this legislation out for what it is – a blatant assault on Ohio’s institutions of higher education, born out of Republican fear of the painful but true history of this country,” said Hicks-Hudson. “S.B. 83 undermines our students’ and faculty’s ability to promote intellectual curiosity and diminishes opportunities for inclusive and innovative business partnerships in the state. This bill hurts all of us.”
Among a litany of changes to Ohio’s higher education laws, S.B. 83 would prohibit all higher education employees from striking and ban institutions from having mandated diversity, equity and inclusion programs. It also would bar colleges and universities from endorsing or opposing as an institution any controversial beliefs, policies, specified concepts or specified ideologies.
More than 300 Ohioans and organizations, including the American Association of University Professors Ohio Conference and Ohio Education Association, submitted testimony in opposition to S.B. 83 while it was receiving hearings in the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee.
Critics have argued the legislation is an unnecessary infringement upon the principles of free speech and academic freedom that will discourage prospective students from attending colleges and universities in Ohio and professors from seeking employment at these institutions.
S.B. 83 (https://legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/135/sb83) now goes to the House for consideration, where its companion legislation, House Bill 151 (https://legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/135/hb151) , received its second hearing today.