For the June 2 hearing of the Ohio Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee, OCAAUP President Marty Kich submitted interested party testimony to address several key concerns that we have with the substitute bill.
On May 19, the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee had adopted a substitute version of SB 135. Substitute SB 135 is different and somewhat improved from its original version.
Of particular concern to us in the original bill was language that implied that faculty could be fired for speaking about material deemed to be outside of their discipline or for expressing personal views. The new version of SB 135 no longer has this language.
Instead of a second chance voucher program financed by universities, there would be a second chance grant pilot program funded by the state. The goal of the program is to help students re-enroll at an institution of higher education to obtain a degree or certificate.
The revised bill also scales back the authority of the chancellor in opening and closing programs based on “in-demand” jobs. Under the new language, the chancellor should consider in-demand jobs when potentially approving a new program.
The bill’s new language still would allow universities to withhold transcripts from students, if the students have outstanding debt at the institution, but makes an exception when the student or graduate needs the transcript for a job.
There is no doubt that our advocacy efforts made a big difference in making this bill more palatable to this point, and we thank the AAUP members who spoke to legislators on our behalf and sent emails to members of the Workforce and Higher Education Committee.