USG visits Ohio Statehouse, speaks about Senate Bill 83


Courtesy of The Undergraduate Student Government Instagram

Sixteen members of the The Undergraduate Student Government visit the Ohio Statehouse to express their opposition to bills.

Jillian Schrift, Reporter

The Undergraduate Student Government visited the Ohio Statehouse as part of an advocacy trip to express their opposition to bills that would affect the Kent State student body. These bills include Senate Bill 83, House Bill 458, House Bill 6 and House Bill 8.

Sixteen USG members met with over 15 representatives and senators April 19 to speak on why they are opposing these bills, specifically SB 83. USG formally condemned the bill earlier this month and discussed how it will impact Kent State students.

SB 83, known as the “Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act,” is a higher education bill that directly impacts academic instruction on controversial beliefs and policies, according to Honesty for Ohio Education

The bill, primarily sponsored by Ohio senator Jerry Cirino, bans mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion training and programs, hiring and providing education around controversial beliefs and policies, affinity groups, affirmative action practices, academic partnerships with China and collective bargaining, according to Honesty for Ohio Education. This is similar to many bills being introduced around the nation that ban discussion and education on these topics.

“Some impacts will include the limiting of course content in the schools of Peace and Conflict Studies, Jewish Studies, LGBTQ+ Studies, Women’s Studies, and others. The university’s department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion would have to halt its operation,” said Isobel Day, vice chair of governmental affairs, in an email. “The university would also be unable to take any stances on any issues affecting the student body, such as attacks on LGBTQ+ students or students of color.”

The bill would overall limit the ability of university faculty to teach, as well as ban university representatives from externally supporting students who are most at risk of hatred on campus, Day said.

USG’s incoming and outgoing student body presidents collaborated with other student government leaders across the state to submit written testimony against SB 83.

Director of Governmental Affairs Jessie Starkey also submitted four pieces of written testimony against the bill on behalf of attendees of the trip.

“I am a political science major, how do I learn and grow without being allowed to speak on my beliefs on policies?” Starkey said in her opposition testimony. “I learn to educate myself and defend my beliefs with debate and uncomfortable conversations, not silence.” 

USG joined more than 500 other written testimonies in opposition of SB 83, according to Ohio Conference American Association of University Professors.

“We were able to help show that many of these bills will negatively impact real students and people,” Starkey said in an email. “The sponsors and their reasonings and perspectives for these bills are important to find a middle ground on, while ensuring that the students’ human rights remain protected.”

If students would like to learn more about SB 83, there is a comprehensive list of impacts on USG’s legislation on the bill on its Instagram page.

Jillian Schrift is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].