This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
New legislation aimed a protecting "intellectual diversity" at state colleges in Ohio – likely heading to the desk of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine – is already having a healthy effect on protecting students' freedom to dissent from leftist nostrums, says a leading conservative education group in the increasingly Republican state.
SB83, the Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act, would require state colleges to adopt and enforce mission statements pledging the institution to declare "that it will educate students by means of free, open, and rigorous intellectual inquiry to seek the truth."
The bill, which has passed the Ohio Senate and will soon be voted on in the GOP-led House, states: "The institution declares it is committed to creating a community dedicated to an ethic of civil and free inquiry, which respects the autonomy of each member, supports individual capacities for growth, and tolerates the differences in opinion that naturally occur in a public higher education community."
The growing sentiment against leftist speech oppression on campuses is partly due to the successful effort by a bold, tech-savvy conservative student at the University of Cincinnati to secure justice despite the efforts of a doctrinaire and seemingly entitled leftist professor who publicly defended punishing her for voicing a common-sense description of real women.
As WND reported, the University of Cincinnati has officially ordered one of its professors to study its campus free speech policy after the Women's Studies instructor gave a "zero" to a student who used the words "biological women" in a paper on men competing in women's sports.
The enterprising student, Olivia Krolczck, turned to TikTok on May 21 to expose her unfair grade punishment two days earlier at the hands of U-C adjunct professor, Melanie Rose Nipper, sending out this video:
Below is a transcript of the short, May 21 video:
I got a zero on a project proposal in my class because I use the term 'biological women,' which is apparently not allowed anymore. She [her professor, Melanie Rose Nipper, yet unnamed] even said it was a good project proposal. Um, but I got a zero because I use this term that's exclusionary and not allowed anymore, so. And I 100% know that this is, like, the most biased grade ever, because my project is about [male-to-female] transgenders competing in biological women's sports. How am I supposed to do my final project if I can't use the word 'biological women'? But that's what my project is about."
Krolczyk intentionally did not name Nipper in her original viral video, but the latter chose to forcefully defend her ideologically motivated grading policy, which only propelled the controversy further into conservative media. The UC student ended up doing interviews with Fox News, Outkick, and others, and filing a formal complaint with the university.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported on June 8: "Nipper was informed by the Office of Gender Equity & Inclusion that Krolcyek had submitted a Freedom of Speech claim, which is a complaint any student may submit if they believe a faculty member violated the University of Cincinnati's Free Speech policy."
Six days later, following an investigation into the incident, the University of Cincinnati Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies handed down its decision, giving Nipper a "written reprimand" for violating the Campus Free Speech Policy. The U-C memo states: "In your course, WGS 2061-001: Gender in Popular Culture, you gave a student 0/20 points on a class assignment. On May 19, 2023, you provided your feedback on the student’s work. You stated, “[Student name], this is a solid proposal. However, the terms 'biological women' are exclusionary and are not allowed in this course as they further reinforce heteronormativity. Please reassess your topic and edit it to focus on women’s rights (not just “females”) and I’ll re-grade.”
"To prevent any further violation of this policy, you must complete training on the requirements of the Campus Free Speech Policy. Through the end of Academic Year 2024/2025, you must submit all syllabi to me at least two weeks prior to the beginning of classes for review and approval," the memo states.
It continues: "Please note that this is to be considered a formal reprimand for your actions. A copy of this letter will be placed in your permanent records. It is also understood that any other violations of UC policy may be subject to further disciplinary actions up to and including termination. You are reminded that as an unrepresented, unclassified 'at will' employee your employment may be terminated with or without cause."
Linda Harvey, founder and president of Mission America, a Christian group that defends traditional sexual morality and fights leftism in education, reacted to the official UC reprimand of a leftist professor's educational abuse – a rarity in the realm of higher education: "It's a truly Orwellian situation when professors at Ohio's major universities, most of whom are far left, must be compelled by the Ohio legislature to air both sides of an issue. That's where we are right now in America, and the left still thinks we need more speech codes."
"It's time for college students and the parents who pay their tuitions much of the time, to wake up," Harvey told WND.
'Safe learning environment'?
In her appeal of the school reprimand, written June 19 and inserted with redactions into her personal file, Nipper writes: "My restriction on harmful speech/a final project choice from a [redacted] student [redacted] was necessary to ensure a safe learning environment in the course discussions and for the pedagogical purpose of teaching introductory WGSS [Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies] theory."
Ironically, in her appeal, the adjunct professor admitted to the completely one-sided, pro-"trans" bias in her course: "I explained to the student that changing her topic/choice of words to include all women was necessary to (a) engage in the theoretical teachings of the authors in the course regarding cisheteronormativity and the gender/sex system and (b) to fulfill the assignment fully, as the project needed to use in-class sources and none of the readings are supportive of trans-exclusionary feminism. Additionally, as the class has students that identify as gender non-conforming and/or trans, I felt it was necessary to educate her regarding inclusive language to ensure a safe learning environment for other students in the course discussion boards."
"All these teachers have political agendas they're trying to push on to their students, and it shouldn't be that way. It should be unbiased grading because it's about academic integrity. It's about ... the quality of your work, not your opinions," Krolczyk said in a June 8 interview with Outkick.
Potentially speaking for many thousands of conservative students who have sat through high school and college classes taught by activist-minded, "progressive" teachers, Krolczyk said: "You can tell when your teacher has an agenda, and you kind of just have to conform to it just to get through the class."
In the same class taught by Nipper, the student said she was downgraded for disagreeing with another student about "white male privilege": "I countered someone else's argument and said it was unfair to generalize and say that all white men were privileged – and then she [Nipper] docked me to grade and said that's ... not true."
Leftists oppose the free speech bill
Left-leaning education groups in Ohio are strongly opposing SB 83, which would also mandate transparency for state colleges, e.g., requiring all course syllabi to be posted online for viewing by the public. A "progressive" coalition called "Honesty for Ohio Education" is urging people to oppose the bill, citing its "significantly harmful provisions."
The Ohio conference of the American Association of University Professors, or AAUP, a liberal professors' group, states a revised version of the bill "revokes the language mandating intellectual diversity rubrics for classes, and clarifies that the bill is not meant to prohibit faculty or students from classroom instruction, discussion or debate, so long as faculty are committed to expressing and allowing the expression of intellectual diversity."
"However, the bill still requires institutions to develop a range of disciplinary measures against faculty and staff who interfere with 'intellectual diversity rights,'" the AAUP complained.
Ironically, Nipper, the University of Cincinnati professor disciplined for her unprofessional, ideology-based grading, complained about SB83 having a "chilling effect" on universities, the Daily Mail reported.