Ohio’s Chilling New Ignorance Bill Is A Threat That Will Turn Students Off | YWCA

Lalita Pamidigantham is the Advocacy Manager of YWCA Columbus.

Recently, our state senate has been active, following the example of other states, introducing bills that will make Ohio a more difficult place for marginalized people to live and thrive.

In the latest attack on education, Senator Jerry C. Sirino introduced Senate Bill 83, a comprehensive attack on higher education.

Senate Bill 83, from banning diversity, equality, and inclusive learning for university staff and students to banning collective bargaining, is an attempt to radically distort the oversight of higher education, cut back on self-governance at Ohio universities and colleges, and undervalue the university experience. .

The bill directly contradicts the values ​​of YWCA Columbus and the vision of a free future.

direct threat

YWCA Columbus is a long-standing social justice agency.

Our mission to eradicate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, dignity and freedom for all is why we oppose this bill.

Universities are a place where people come to explore ideas, ideologies, and to think and dialogue freely. Students enter the university with the aim of obtaining an education and a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. Higher education is often an engine of the economy, a catalyst for innovation, and promotes the values ​​of freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and active dialogue.

While university DEI programs are only part of a continuum of resources and programs that promote student safety, university programs can attract highly talented students from historically marginalized identities by incorporating these practices into their administration and curriculum.

On campus, marginalized students deserve a place where they can feel safe.

In addition, this bill is a direct threat to YWCA Columbus’ vision of a more just and equal society.

Our Fairness, Equity and Inclusion trainings benefit participants who wish to better understand the historical and social context of our contemporary society. We educate private, public and non-profit teams while focusing profits, allowing companies to thrive in their approach to diversity, fairness and inclusion.

These practices are tools to improve relations between visitors and spread awareness of systemic and systemic racism, as well as other forms of oppression. We are moving forward through the quagmire of racism, step by step, educating the public and protecting the interests of the marginalized. Universities have long been allies in this work.

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At university, students can expand their knowledge base, question predetermined—or not yet challenged—assumptions, and debate among themselves and with faculty to hone their understanding of the world. Graduates often reflect a desire to create positive global change that systematically enhances social justice in the systems in which we live and work.

Universities are bastions of ideological diversity and DEI values ​​are positive for all. They enhance empathy, encourage conversation, and create opportunities for making amends when harm is done. These skills are very helpful when students leave the university and join the workforce.

University employees also deserve to feel safe in their workplace. DEI staff training is a useful way to ensure that everyone who works together treats each other with respect. This helps empower marginalized people who may not have access to the same power systems that enable their white counterparts to excel in their roles.

For example, research shows that women often don’t feel entitled to ask for a raise, but by learning and understanding this, we can coach women and close the pay gap. But the first step to empower marginalized people is education.

And this is how DEI training plays a role in the well-being of marginalized employees.


This bill will have a deterrent effect on students entering Ohio schools.

Young people from all over the world want to move to Ohio to attend prestigious universities here, including Ohio State University, Bowling Green University, or Wright State University, and to contribute to the legacy of Ohio’s only historically black public colleges and universities, Central state university. University.

These public universities are building a workforce of highly talented and special young people who are both professionally and personally investing in Ohio’s future, but Senate Bill 83 will make these young people think twice before applying.

Our best and brightest students, who grew up in the country, have been leaving the state for a long time — thanks in part to attempts to prevent teachers from engaging in social-emotional learning or harm trans youth — a law Ohio voters vehemently condemned last fall.

Ohio will fall further behind in innovation and diversity. In fact, curtailing freedom of thought at the universities could permanently stain Ohio’s public universities.

At a time when Ohioans are excited to see jobs expand and big companies jump-start our economy, is this really the approach we as a state want to take?

Next steps

All people deserve access to the information they need to make informed choices as voters, family members, professionals and neighbors, from the policy making that governs our land to how they treat each other in interpersonal relationships.

We know that education is the first step towards building the future we want to see.

We support our partners, groups like Ohio Integrity Education and OPAWL, who are working to bring honest education into Ohio’s education systems.

We will continue to educate our community and promote the principles of justice, equality and belonging. We will defend the interests of the oppressed and will not rest until we eradicate racism, empower all women, and bring peace, justice, dignity and freedom to all.

Lalita Pamidigantham is the Advocacy Manager of YWCA Columbus.

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