Last week, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 83, a bill that would restrict public colleges and universities from requiring diversity training, from teaching diversity and from allowing faculty to analyze their work if it has any semblance of a political ideology as defined by the Republican-controlled congress.
The bill aims to eliminate bias in higher education classrooms. Its effect will be quite the opposite.
As students of a liberal arts public university, we as an editorial board believe strongly that this bill will undermine the higher education system in Ohio by muzzling teachers from engaging with difficult subjects. Professors and teachers won't be able to draw conclusions regarding the subjects in which they are experts.
Professors who teach social issues and the histories of social justice won’t be told they cannot teach, but they will be fear-mongered into avoiding sharing their findings. White supremacy, racism, homophobia and other social topics are just a few among the many that are targeted with this bill.
This new development in the “anti-woke” crusade is yet another example of straw-manning the “liberal bias” that exists on college campuses. Yes, higher education generally lands on the left side of the political spectrum, but this bill aims to call factual conclusions “biases” simply because some lawmakers don’t like the outcome.
This legislative fear-mongering aims to bolster conservative voices on college campuses and keep those campuses from recruiting people from diverse backgrounds and even students from out-of-state. The bill would directly eliminate diversity statements as a hiring consideration, disproportionately impacting minority applicants who are seeking employment in Ohio. Many will likely rule out applying in the state at all.
S.B. 83 won’t eliminate bias; it will legally mandate conservatism in classrooms that should not be bound by political agendas.
Many classes that exist today simply can’t exist under the framework of the bill. Biology classes and environmental science classes that aim to teach about the scientific facts of climate change could cease to exist.
Why? Climate policies are labeled “controversial beliefs or policies” by the bill despite near-unanimous consensus from the experts.
All this is simply to promote conservative ideals in communities that seek and teach research-based truth.
Legislators that proposed the bill have not listened to the people it will affect or people who disagree with their stance. Students, teachers and school boards have not been consulted for their opinions and beliefs.
This likely-unenforceable bill is another tool in the belts of those fighting the one-sided culture war against students, teachers and people belonging to minority backgrounds.
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As an editorial board, the most difficult part of this bill is the lack of an effect we will have. Countless Ohioans have shared their opinions against the bill. Countless students and teachers have voiced their opinions. Protests have been held.
Miami University’s faculty, on the same day the bill was passed, succeeded in a vote to unionize faculty. This lengthy process peaked on the same day the legislature aimed to belittle its importance.
According to Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, he is “literally trying to rescue higher education in Ohio from itself.”
Advice and consent over the boards of trustees of each and every public college and university are no longer enough for the totalitarian wing of the Ohio Senate. This is a power play to assert dominance over each trustee, each professor, each student and each administrator of every public school in Ohio. Those same groups are the ones whose feedback these legislators value the least.
Though there will be virtually no impact from our voices as the editorial board, or, for that matter, from students and faculty across the state, we strongly urge the State of Ohio to strike down this bill as the anti-truth, sidestepping, soulless hot garbage that it is.
We beg of you; do not duct-tape our faculty’s mouths shut. If our teachers cannot teach, we will all lose in the end.