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‘Watershed’ Ohio bill would crack down on university DEI training, political ‘litmus tests,’ Chinese influence


A “watershed bill” in Ohio would promote free speech, end DEI mandates, and sever ties with China at the state’s public colleges and universities.

State Sen. Jerry Cirino introduced Senate Bill 83 on Mar. 15 “to ensure [that] Ohio’s students are educated by means of free, open, and rigorous intellectual inquiry to seek the truth,” according to a news release.

The bill has overlapping provisions with legislation introduced in Florida and Tennessee that addresses DEI bureaucracies in higher education. Under SB 83, colleges and universities cannot require “litmus tests” such as diversity statements in admissions or job applications, nor can they require students, faculty, or staff to complete DEI training.

[RELATED: REPORT: The faculty DEI statement is ‘The New Loyalty Oath’]

Campuses would also be required also add free speech language to their mission statements. Each institution, according to the bill, must acknowledge in its mission statement “that it will educate students by means of free, open, and rigorous intellectual inquiry to seek the truth.”

Faculty members would be responsible for upholding intellectual freedom under the bill’s provisions. Student evaluations would assess whether “the faculty member create[s] a classroom atmosphere free of political, racial, gender, and religious bias.” A low evaluation would result in a post-tenure review by the university, with the board of trustees making the final decision on the faculty member’s retention.

“Additionally, Ohio institutions of higher education would be required to disclose all donations made by the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party [(CCP)], the People’s Liberation Army, or any other extension or affiliate of the People’s Republic of China,” Cirino’s news release reads.

[RELATED: READ: PROF. GIORDANO: American universities are ‘turning a blind eye’ to ‘foreign influence’ on campuses]

If the bill passes, universities must report any gifts or funds–including from Confucius Institutes–that they received before the bill’s implementation. SB 83 would effectively end study abroad programs and research funded by Chinese institutions, according to the Sentinel-Tribune.

“Money talks and massive foreign gifts and contracts from China to colleges and universities makes them extremely vulnerable to Chinese penetration,” Paul Moore, the Senior Counsel for the Defense of Freedom Institute (DFI), told Campus Reform.

When Moore worked at the Department of Education during the Trump administration, he says that he served as Chief Investigative Counsel, “leading the Department’s investigations into undisclosed foreign access to America’s colleges and universities.”

Moore references the security threats from China through its intimidation of international students and its access to research, including at universities with Department of Defense contracts.

“Unfortunately, the CCP is engaged in increasingly hostile acts against America and our universities are one of China’s key targets,” Moore says. “Our leaders must recognize that unfortunate reality and respond accordingly. Ohio appears to be doing just that.”

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.

Republished with permission from Campus Reform

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