Stephens Must Save Ohio Colleges from Radical Ideology of DEI

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The Columbus Dispatch on June 13, 2024. It is crossposted here with permission.

American higher education is in trouble.

In Ohio, enrollment in universities is lower today than a decade ago, and in just the last few months Notre Dame College and Eastern Gateway Community College announced they were closing.

Nationally, often violent, anti-Israeli campus protests this spring demonstrated vicious anti-Semitism and a disregard for the rule of law, sometimes preventing other students and campus administrators from performing their duties.

We are retired professors at three prominent Ohio universities— the Ohio State UniversityCase Western Reserve University, and Ohio University. Somewhat reluctantly, we have concluded that our universities need some outside adult supervision.

Attempts by massive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracies to push state schools to adopt a radical left ideology and stifle intellectual diversity have been appalling; for example, over 100 DEI bureaucrats work at Ohio State alone.

Traditional parts of general education curricula, such as teaching about our history and the development of civic institutions arising from our federal and state constitutions, have been downplayed or even eliminated on many campuses.

Accordingly, we, all members of the Ohio chapter of the National Association of Scholars, testified before the Ohio legislature in favor of Senate Bill 83, introduced by Sen. Jerry Cirino, which dealt with the issues mentioned above such as by prohibiting forcing members of state university communities to sign diversity statements pledging support of a left political agenda.

The legislation proposes several other positive things such as prohibiting irresponsible faculty strikes during the middle of an academic term, which damages the education of tuition-paying students. It shortened the excessive (nine-year) terms for the state university boards of trustees, and regulated the potential misuse of faculty tenure.

S.B. 83 handily passed in the Ohio Senate and cleared the higher education committee in the Ohio House of Representatives.

However, Speaker Jason Stephens has blocked consideration of the bill by the entire House, ostensibly because he doesn’t think the votes are there to pass it.

Cirino disagrees.

As The Columbus Dispatch recently reported, Gov. Mike DeWine acknowledges the need for some legislative action.

We implore Stephens to let the democratic process unfold and allow the House to vote on this needed reform.

Many other states have enacted restrictions on DEI activities. Several prominent universities, for example, the Universities of North CarolinaFlorida and Texas have moved to completely shut down or severely restrict DEI efforts that enforce an authoritarian leftish ideology on members of the campus community, usually in response to gubernatorial or legislative pressure.

Stephens, we beg you: Allow the political process to assess, and likely approve, efforts to curtail the heretofore largely successful efforts of a woke supremacy to curtail the freedom of expression and intellectual diversity that’s so essential to operating a vibrant system of state universities.

Photo by SeanPavonePhoto — Adobe Stock — Asset ID#: 28481009


  • Richard Vedder, George Dent, and Hal Arkes

    Richard Vedder, George Dent and Hal Arkes are retired professors of economics, law and psychology, respectively, at Ohio University, Case Western Reserve University and the Ohio State University. They serve on the board of the Ohio chapter of the National Association of Scholars.

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One thought on “Stephens Must Save Ohio Colleges from Radical Ideology of DEI”

  1. Respectfully, higher education has been in serious trouble for thirty years, and the thuggish disrespect for the rule of law we saw this spring was common in the ’90s — anyone remember “by any means necessary” and their practice of throwing chairs in
    meetings? Or the “building takeovers”?

    The only real difference is technology — today almost everyone has a cell phone which can record video that is good enough to document what happened and even if not broadcast, can be documented widely enough to document that it did actually happen.

    20-30 years ago I was telling students *not* to use digital cameras because they couldn’t write fast enough to memory and all they’d have would be a blur — to instead use
    disposable cameras using film, have the rolls processed to .jpg files, and hope they got lucky. Now it’s not just .jpgs (still pictures) but the ability of anyone with a reasonably steady hand to get video in almost any lighting conditions. (Anyone remember the lighting that TV cameras required in the ’80s?)

    It was the pictures and video of this stuff happening that got the attention of Joe Sixpack and Suzie Sweatpants — the same stuff was happening back in the ’90s and ’00s — I WAS THERE and the victim of a lot of it — it’s just that college administrators can’t deny it anymore. I saw worse — the incident with the Mumia Abu-Jamal fan club that resulted in two “officer in trouble” calls comes to mind — it’s just that we didn’t have video of that.

    And this includes some of the video released by the thugs themselves — my personal favorite is a video from UMass arrests where a kid runs up and attacks a cop from behind while they are arresting another person. Well the average (rational) person understands that if you attack a police officer from behind, his buddies are going to drop you to the ground and arrest you, which is exactly what happened.

    No, there actually is another difference — the professors who opposed this stuff have retired. You can’t count on someone in the Faculty Senate standing up to defend you if necessary the way I could, and with that safety net gone, things ARE worse.

    Yes, it’s time for the grownups to step in and if Speaker Jason Stephens isn’t willing to support this, the solution is to make it part of next year’s legislative apportionment to the university system. If the State Senate and Governor support this, then it could be amended to be part of next year’s legislative appropriation.

    In any case, can we agree that Higher Ed is a MESS???

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