Legislation targets university diversity and affirmative action



Photo of the Ohio Statehouse.

Makenna Flores, Managing Editor

A new senate bill proposed to the Ohio Legislature will cause changes within higher education institutions within the state. 

On Wednesday, March 15, Sen. Jerry Cirino introduced the bill during a press conference. 

For private universities to receive state funding, they must submit statements to the chancellor of higher education including a commitment to intellectual diversity, free speech protection, no diversity, equity and inclusion training requirements, undergraduate course syllabi must be published and easily searchable for the general public and political and ideological litmus tests are prohibited for hiring and promotion policies. 

Although public universities also must comply with removing diversity, equity and inclusion training requirements and easily searchable syllabi available for the public, their requirements within the bill come at a longer list. 

Public universities must alter their mission statements to incorporate things like, “no aspect of life at the institution, within or outside the classroom, requires, favors, disfavors or prohibits speech or action to support any political, social or religious belief,” as well as ensuring an ethical and open environment for students to come to their own conclusions about matters of social and political importance. 

Within 90 days of the passage of the bill, the Board of Trustees must create a policy that includes an intellectual diversity rubric for course reviews and student evaluation. They will also have to include that institutions cannot take public positions “regarding public policy controversies or any ideology, principle, concept” and no boycotting participation. 

Under the bill, institutions “must not treat, advantage, disadvantage or segregate any faculty, staff, or students by membership in groups defined by characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” Affirmative action will also be prohibited, as well as affinity groups, which include orientations, majors, financial awards, residential housing, administrative employment, faculty employment, student training and extracurricular activities focused on group identity. 

Beginning in 2026 to 2027, undergraduate students must take a three-hour credit course in American government or American history and be assessed on six specific readings correlating with American history. 

Academic relationships with China are also at risk, as any ties with the country must be severed. This includes no gifts, donations or contributions from China or organizations or individuals acting on behalf of the country and study abroad programs. 

For faculty within institutions, they must work a full-time workload equal to 30 credit hours per year, student, peer and faculty evaluations which may include questions regarding if the faculty member has a classroom free of bias, post-tenure reviews and striking will not be allowed. 

To read more about Senate Bill 83, click here.