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My Bill to Reform Higher Education is One Big Step Closer to Becoming Law

Senate Bill 83 Defies Media Predictions and is Approved by Key Committee
By Jerry C. Cirino
December 7, 2023
On The Record

The widespread media reports of the death of Senate Bill 83 were greatly exaggerated.

In fact, the Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act took a major step toward becoming law on Tuesday when it was approved by the House Higher Education Committee. 

We now look forward to Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens bringing SB 83 up for a floor vote so it can be approved by a majority of representatives and become law as soon as possible.

I sponsored this legislation to meet an urgent need to restore basic freedoms and education fundamentals at Ohio’s 14 public universities and colleges.

Senate Bill 83 is simply designed to ensure free expression on campus and in the classroom. Critics say my bill promotes censorship. They have it exactly backwards. This bill will allow students to exercise their right to free speech without threat of reprisal by professors or administrators. 

It will permit the marketplace of ideas to flourish, which is the ideal environment for any educational institution.

Senate Bill 83 will:

•        Ensure intellectual diversity in the classroom and among the faculty.

•        Provide free speech protections for students, faculty, and staff.

•        Allow an education of free, open, and rigorous intellectual inquiry to seek the truth.

•        Eliminate requirements for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) courses or training for students, staff or faculty.

•        Require full syllabus transparency.

•        Ban political and ideological litmus tests in all hiring, promotion, and admissions decisions.

•        Install a number of other worthwhile provisions including the establishment of post-tenure periodic review, and requiring full disclosure of any donations made by any affiliate of the People’s Republic of China.

There is a misperception in the media and among Statehouse Democrats that SB 83 is unwelcome on campus. Actually, the people responsible for running our institutions of higher education know better than anyone else how badly these reforms are needed.

I have taken numerous phone calls from trustees of Ohio’s 14 public universities and colleges expressing tremendous support for this legislation. And, these trustees tell me, they are telling the presidents of their institutions the need for the reforms in SB 83 is critical and urgent.

I am confident a majority of the members of the Ohio House of Representatives also recognize the need to pass SB 83 when it comes up for a vote. And that they realize the great benefits this bill will provide Ohio’s college students and their families. Senate Bill 83 will help keep tuition costs from spiraling and help ensure students receive an education not an indoctrination.

The testimony of Ivy League presidents on Capitol Hill this week starkly illustrated the harmful and pervasive nature of DEI indoctrination at even our nation’s most prestigious campuses.

Members of Congress grilled the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania on the surge in antisemitism on college campuses.

When New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik asked if “calling for the genocide of Jews” is against the universities’ respective codes of conduct, not one of them could unequivocally state that it was.

Sadly, there is a reason for that.

The students expressing these antisemitic views are the product of DEI training and indoctrination. On The Record has extensively documented the link between DEI and the shocking outburst of antisemitism on campus.

As OTR reported, former DEI Director at Silicon Valley’s De Anza College Tabia Lee ran into a brick wall when she tried to address rampant antisemitism on campus. She was called a “dirty Zionist.”

“I can safely say that toxic DEI ideology deliberately stokes hatred toward Israel and the Jewish people,” she declared.

“DEI is built on the unshakable belief that the world is divided into two groups of people: the oppressors and the oppressed. Jews are categorically placed in the oppressor category, while Israel is branded a ‘genocidal, settler, colonialist state.”

Lee summed up proponents of DEI on campus: “I have never encountered a more hostile environment toward the members of any racial, ethnic or religious group.”

 We need to stop teaching hate and division by identity groups on campus. 

DEI is the problem and SB 83 is the cure.