COLUMBUS, Ohio – Today, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), a Lakewood Democrat whose 23rd state legislative district includes 14 of Cleveland's 17 wards, issued a statement after the Ohio Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 83, the highly controversial "Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act."
"This bill is an egregious overreach by the Republican majority to micromanage Ohio's colleges and universities," said Antonio. "It is a bill that could silence Ohio's best and brightest. How are we as a state supposed to claim to educate future generations to the fullest without the discussion and understanding of all views and perspectives?
She branded the bill, Senate Bill 83, a Republicans effort to limit diversity, equity, and inclusion from Ohio's institutions of higher learning
The measure passed the Senate 21-10 with all Democrats and three Republicans voting no. S.B. 83 now goes to the House for consideration, where its companion legislation, House Bill 151, received its second hearing today.
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.
"Institutions of higher education are tasked with preparing our students for the workforce and to compete in a global economy," said Antonio. "It is our institutions that should be allowed to decide whether to require diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as part of their program. However, this bill will have a chilling effect on future students from having an ability to interact with other cultures or perspectives. Republicans devised this bill out of a seemingly desperate fear of a 'woke agenda.' But they should be afraid of the far more frightening impacts the bill will have by imposing it on nonconsenting students, faculty and institutions. Instead of advancing critical thinking, this bill stifles academic freedom."
Critics also argue that S B. 83 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.
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