December 3, 2023

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Diving overview:

  • The Ohio Legislature is considering a bill that would bar workers at the state’s 14 public universities and 23 community colleges from striking.
  • Proposed legislation would overhaul several elements of public higher education in Ohio. State institutions also could not mandate diversity training or diversity hiring statements that require applicants to outline their commitment to inclusion and equal employment.
  • More than 50 private colleges in the state could also be affected. To get state capital dollars, private institutions would be forced to sign a document affirming their commitment to free speech and say they will not mandate diversity, equity and inclusion courses or training for students, staff or faculty.

Diving statistics:

Ohio’s bill, spearheaded by state Republicans, includes education proposals popular among conservatives nationally. Across the United States, right-leaning lawmakers have introduced bills that would limit faculty tenure, dictate what curriculum can be taught, and block diversity initiatives in public higher education.

To that end, the Ohio legislation would prohibit colleges from imposing “political or ideological litmus tests” on faculty hiring.

Faculty evaluations would also change drastically. The bill would reshape them by requiring public colleges to annually review instructors in areas such as teaching, research and service.

The student evaluation of the faculty would count for half of the teaching component in these assessments. And the bill would mandate one question on those student reviews: “Does the faculty member create a classroom atmosphere free of political, racial, gender, and religious bias?”

It would also prohibit state universities from working with or receiving donations from Chinese entities.

The proposed ban on strikes, however, outraged the unions in particular. It’s an issue in the spotlight right now as such movements are taking center stage on campuses across the country. Union supporters have said academics should seek fair working conditions, while their critics say the strikes harm students.

Week-long strike among graduate students just finished in Temple University, a public institution in Philadelphia, while unions at Rutgers University, another public college in New Jersey, expect a strike ahead of bumpy contract negotiations.

Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors he said that it is already a strategy to defeat the bill, SB 83, including working with AAUP leaders across the state.

Ohio’s AAUP described the bill as an attempt to “micromanage” public and private institutions.

Several colleges in Ohio have a recent history of strikes. Wright State University faculty went on strike for about three weeks in 2019, one of the longest in the history of public universities, regarding health and salary discrepancies. And in 2020 faculty at Youngstown State University went on strike due to a salary dispute.

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