Kent State student government condemns state bill banning Critical Race Theory in schools
The body unanimously voted to condemn a bill currently before the Ohio legislature that would ban CRT.
Campus Reform continues to track bans on CRT as well as its influence on K-12 education.
The Undergraduate Student Government at Kent State University in Ohio voted unanimously to condemn HB 327 during a general meeting on Oct. 20.
The USG’s resolution targeted H.B. No. 327, which is in committee at the Ohio House of Representatives and would prohibit “divisive content” from being taught in “school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and state agencies”.
According to the bill, “divisive content” is defined as concepts promoting “one nationality, color, ethnicity or sex is inherently superior to another.” It also includes the notion that “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist” and that “An individual, by virtue of the individual's nationality, color, ethnicity, race, or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same nationality, color, ethnicity, race, or sex.”
Campus Reform has reported on numerous accounts of students' responses to Critical Race Theory, and corresponding legislation. An interactive map of the country highlights legislation in different states that have attempted to ban CRT content in both K-12, and higher education. States include Pennsylvania, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Alabama.
Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Idaho have already passed legislation to prohibit state employees from teaching CRT.
The Ohio bill would include a provision to prevent discriminatory action from being taken against state employees who decline to teach curriculum that falls under the device concepts category.
“No state employee shall face any penalty or discrimination on account of the employee’s refusal to support, believe, endorse, embrace, confess, act upon, or otherwise assent to divisive concepts,” the bill reads.
Continued violation of the prohibition could result in the school’s public funding being potentially withheld.
The resolution that Kent State’s USG voted unanimously on responds to the conditions established in the proposed legislation and the Kent State USG urged urged all members of the House of Representatives to vote no.
The resolution reads:
“House Bill 327 pushes for ‘the impartial instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic region’, which allows the perspective of the oppressor to be equated to that of the people being oppressed.”
President of the Kent State College Republicans Ben Adams expressed that while the bill does hold some merit that would prevent racism from being taught in classes, he holds concerns with the precedent the bill may create for the scale of government intervention.
“I agree with the statement that the U.S isn’t racist, but I don’t agree it’s the State Government’s place to restrict speech against the country,” Adams told Campus Reform.
Kent State is not alone in expressing disagreement with the bill. In September, a similar resolution was presented and unanimously supported by the Undergraduate Student Government at Bowling Green State University.
“The Undergraduate Student Government and Bowling Green State University champion efforts to expand and enhance diversity and inclusion efforts not only on this campus but within our greater community. These two house bills are the antithesis of everything we stand for, and thus should be responded to rapidly and definitively by students and university leadership,” wrote USG President Alexander Chiarelott in a letter to university administrators.
In the resolution, members acknowledge their stance is not political, but stands to be an appeal to “free and honest education”.
BGSU student government members declared a call to action urging students to enroll in training through Inclusive Culturally Responsive Educators to provide testimony against the bill, as well as sign a petition on Change.org. At the time of publication, the petition had gathered over 300 signatures supporting the students’ plight.
Campus Reform reached out for further comment from Chiarelott, however the request was denied.
This is not the first incident at Kent State University concerning an approach to teaching and discussing race. Following a series of controversial remarks on the campus rock at the front of campus that led to the near removal of the traditional figure, the university has increased inclusionary efforts through an anti-racism action plan.
The plan included the installation of security cameras and lights around the rock, anti-bias training for staff and students, and creation of a platform for notifying the community about hate speech.
Campus Reform has reached out to both Kent State University and Bowling Green for comment, as well as bill sponsor Erik Gomez. Kent State referred to comment from USG, but the request was not returned at time of publication. The article will be updated accordingly.