Student groups protest Ohio bill that would gut DEI

The groups expressed their desire that university leadership would oppose an anti-DEI bill being considered in the Ohio legislature.

‘This bill will allow students to exercise their right to free speech without threat of reprisal by professors or administrators,’ the bill sponsor said.

Screenshot taken from Instagram of _parisjada_.

On April 29, more than 30 student groups at Ohio State University sent an open letter to university leadership demanding that the school fight to keep its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies in place, despite legislation being considered in the state legislature that would crack down on DEI in higher education. 

The legislation in question, SB 83, which is sponsored by Republican Ohio State Sen. Jerry Cirino, would require public colleges and universities to “[p]rohibit any mandatory orientation or training course regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion,” and make community colleges publicly share course syllabi. 

[RELATED: Anti-DEI movement mirrors rise of societal pushback to leftism: ANALYSIS]

The bill would also “prohibit political and ideological litmus tests in all hiring, promotion, and admissions decisions, including diversity statements.”

The student groups expressed their disappointment in OSU’s lack of opposition to the legislation: “The university’s actions, or lack thereof, in response to SB-83 is an immediate contradiction to the expressed values of this institution. According to Ohio State’s shared values page, the institution works to promote Diversity & Innovation and Inclusion & Equity. The ongoing and potential future university policy changes directly attack our institution’s shared values by restricting access to DEl resources and opportunities.”

The students also claimed that “the removal of scholarships and tailored academic support for protected classes poses a threat to the livelihoods of students from all backgrounds, many who aspire to receive a fair and equitable education,” apparently referring to decisions by OSU and other Ohio schools to stop granting race-based scholarships in order to comply with the Supreme Court’s ban on affirmative action in higher education. 

“Eliminating DEI training, limiting staff and faculty involvement with DEI activities, and banning ‘controversial beliefs or policies’ will get rid of jobs and hinder the ability of institutions to address inequities and create inclusive environments,” they contended. 

“The recent surge in anti-DEl legislation directly threatens the values our university purportedly stands for. . . . We urge our leaders to prioritize and uphold the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion that are fundamental to our community. It is imperative that our leadership takes a proactive stance to safeguard the well-being of the Buckeye community,” they continued. 

The students also posed a series of questions they asked the university to answer, including: “What assurances can be provided regarding the protection of students, resources, staff and faculty in the face of potential legislative, policy and leadership changes as a result of SB-83?” and “[i]f SB-83 does pass, how will it affect the allocation of funds that were specifically used for DEl efforts?” 

A spokesperson for OSU said: “We have received the letter and will respond.”

[RELATED: University of Wyoming scraps DEI department after state cuts funding]

SB 83 passed the Ohio Senate in 2023 and is currently being considered in the Ohio House. 

“Senate Bill 83 is simply designed to ensure free expression on campus and in the classroom,” Senator Cirino explained. “This bill will allow students to exercise their right to free speech without threat of reprisal by professors or administrators.”

Campus Reform has contacted Ohio State University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.