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Proposed Ohio Higher Education Bill Causes Concern for the State’s Universities

The “In the States” feature by Kaitlyn Brennan is a weekly update to keep members informed on state-level activities impacting the education and educator preparation community.

Last week, the Ohio State Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee voted to accept a substitute version of Senate Bill 83. The original version of the bill, also known as the Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act, was first introduced in April and proposed a slew of wide-ranging changes, including ending mandated diversity trainings, bans on partnerships with Chinese institutions, restrictions on faculty unions striking during contract negotiations, and new evaluations for students to rate professors on how well they have removed bias from their classrooms.

As outlined in a statement released by the University of Cincinnati, in its current, updated form, Senate Bill 83 — as well as the companion House Bill 151 — continue to cause concern among higher education faculty and students. The proposed legislation would still impact a number of areas, including the following: 

  • University mission statements
  • DEI policies and programs
  • Policies related to intellectual diversity and controversial beliefs
  • Syllabus requirements
  • Faculty workload, evaluation, and post-tenure review processes
  • Partnerships with the People’s Republic of China
  • Board of Trustees training and term lengths
  • A requirement of an American history/government course for all undergraduates
  • Endowment-related policies and practices
  • Collective bargaining agreements  

The Inter-University Council, a consortium of Ohio’s 14 public universities, has stated that they will continue their advocacy, both formal and informal, regarding the bill’s impact on higher education and the State of Ohio overall. The group also encouraged faculty, if interested, to provide feedback by contacting their local legislator using their personal contact information and email rather than those of their university.

For information on how to contact the Ohio General Assembly, visit legislature.ohio.gov.

A second hearing on SB83 is scheduled for this week.