Over 100 people speak against Senate Bill 83 in Ohio
Among other things, the bill would prohibit university staff and employees from striking.
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Last week, during a marathon meeting; college students, university staff, and other advocates spoke out against the higher education bill that aims to change public education in Ohio.
According to the Ohio Capital Journal, more than 100 people reunited at the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday to testify against the Senate Bill 83. Having a significant impact on college campuses in the state, it would, among other things, require American history courses and tenure evaluations based on if the educator showed bias or taught with bias, and prohibit university staff and employees from striking.
People testified for over seven hours during Wednesday’s marathon Senate Workforce and Higher Education committee meeting. Although more than 500 people submitted opponent testimony to SB 83, there was only time for around 100 people to be heard.
Affecting mostly public schools, SB 83 would also impact private institutions that want to use public funds.
“It is bad for students, it is bad for higher education, and it is bad for Ohio,” said Cynthia Peoples, the founding director of Honesty for Ohio Education — a nonpartisan statewide coalition. “This bill attacks academic freedom. It attacks our students’ freedom to learn.”
More than 100 state students signed up to testify — mostly from Ohio State, Miami University, and Kent State University. They were concerned about the way professors would have to approach important discussion topics considering the language of the bill. As a result, students fear the next generation will be apathetic and less engaged.
SB 83 can make students prefer to pursue higher education in other states and, according to the Ohio Capital Journal, this may be already happening. Ohio university main and regional campuses and community colleges have both seen a 12% decrease in enrollment from Fall 2022 to Fall 2012, the publication stated.
During the meeting on Wednesday, a few people testified in support of the bill. State Rep. Williams, R-Oregon, said the legislation is needed to protect faculty and students — as he has seen discrimination against faculty in hiring and disciplinary practice.
“By doing nothing to support intellectual diversity on campus, we tacitly support intellectual tyranny in our most prized institutions,” he said.
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