Press Release: Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act Passes Senate

National Association of Scholars

New York, NY, May 18, 2023 – The Ohio Senate has passed Senate Bill 83, the Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act. SB 83, sponsored by Senator Jerry Cirino, will do an extraordinary amount to depoliticize public colleges and universities, strengthen intellectual diversity on campus, and restore citizen oversight of the state’s higher education system.

“SB 83 is the leading edge of higher education reform bills,” said National Association of Scholars (NAS) President Peter Wood. “In 2021, the NAS set out to rehabilitate colleges and universities by promoting model legislation after so many institutions proved unable or unwilling to reform from within. SB 83 takes from our Model Higher Education Code and adapts it to the needs and political circumstances of Ohio. It was an honor to work with the state’s legislature and our members to see that this bill passed the Senate.”

SB 83’s sponsors went above and beyond for their state’s citizens to offer a comprehensive improvement to Ohio higher education. Their catalogue of reforms includes requirements that colleges and universities commit themselves to intellectual diversity, and to prohibiting both “diversity statements” and mandatory trainings or courses in discriminatory concepts such as “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI). The bill also adds requirements for reformed mission statements, syllabus transparency requirements, detailed budgetary transparency, nondiscrimination, transparency about speaker fees, and a new American history and government general education requirement. Importantly, the bill reinforces prohibitions on segregation and bars financial entanglements with the People’s Republic of China.

Wood added, “SB 83 absolutely is necessary. Intellectual diversity has dwindled on campuses nationwide and is effectively non-existent on most college campuses. This problem certainly extends to Ohio’s universities.”

NAS Senior Fellow John Sailer has written extensively about how so-called “diversity, equity, and inclusion” bureaucrats at Ohio State University have used diversity statements and other administrative means to screen candidates for hire and promotion by political association. SB 83 puts an end to such practices that endanger academic freedom.

“When Ohio’s universities became incapable of reforming themselves to uphold the principles of what makes higher education higher, its citizens and legislature stepped up,” explained Wood. “These reform-minded Ohioans have our sincerest gratitude.”

SB 83 is well tailored to accomplish its goal. It is comprehensive, detailed, but with carefully drafted language. SB 83, for example, does not prohibit “diversity, equity, and inclusion courses or training for students, staff, or faculty”; rather, it specifies that the universities may not require them. SB 83 uses such precise language throughout, to ensure that it champions liberty in Ohio’s universities, and does not accidentally infringe upon the principles or the practice of academic freedom.

The National Association of Scholars heartily endorses SB 83, urges the Ohio House to pass companion legislation to this bill, and for Governor DeWine to sign it.

NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at www.nas.org.

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Contact: David Randall, Executive Director, Civics Alliance, [email protected].


Photo by Adobe Stock

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