Retirees Association Ohio higher ed bill brings back faculty strikes, but critics fear it could invite ‘conspiracy theories as academic substance’

Miami University students protest SB83

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The 11th version of a sweeping Ohio Senate bill that would crack down on perceived liberal bias at public colleges and universities was introduced Wednesday with one of its most controversial provisions removed: the ban on faculty and staff striking.

State Sen. Jerry Cirino, a Kirtland Republican, told members of the Ohio House Higher Education Committee he was not thrilled about removing the ban on strikes. Strikes interrupt students’ education, he said.

But he said that enough members of the Ohio House told him the strike ban was going to sink his bill in the chamber, and his goal is to get Senate Bill 83 passed and signed into law.

SB 83 passed the Ohio Senate in May, and is now under consideration in the House. The bill addresses diversity, equity and inclusion, collaboration with scholars from China, faculty and staff collective bargaining agreements, intellectual diversity on campus, post-tenure reviews, and ensuring students’ and faculty members’ viewpoints are respected. The bill is a mashup of ideas Cirino has for what he believes will improve higher education, combined with language – some verbatim – from model legislation put out by conservative organizations.

The bill, though, has stalled since it was sent to the House. It had not had a hearing since its Senate passage in May, and Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens has been cool on its prospects in the House without revisions.