Senate bill 83, introduced to the Ohio Senate on March 14, is a bill that will forbid University funding for any diversity, equity and inclusion program. Nicknamed the upper education enhancement act, its goal is to “protect freedom of speech.” Organizations at risk of losing funding are the Student Multicultural Center, the LGBTQ center, the Women’s center and any initiatives under them like Black United Students, Sister Circle or the Male Empowerment Network. 

Six Kent State students share experiences they have had as people of color at Kent State, the impact these organizations had on their lives and their fears about this bill passing. 
Josiah Ragin, Sophomore
Josiah has found places of comfort through organizations like Black United Students, Sister Circle and the Male Empowerment Network, in a community where he often feels out of place. 

“Just being at a predominately white university, it’s harder to be comfortable, be willing to share my thoughts, my experiences and the way I view things because more often than not people don’t view things the same as I do,” Josiah said. 

“However, when I’m in spaces such as Sister Circle or Black United Students I’m more willing to be myself and be comfortable because I know that regardless of the differences in the specifics of our stories, it’s rooted in the same love and community.” 

For the past year, Josiah has been vice president of the male empowerment network, an initiative with a goal to develop men of color academically, professionally and socially. Through the initiative, he has found his safe space at Kent State. 

“It has shown me my story matters.”

For Josiah, the bill raises concerns that black student will lose these spaces they’ve worked so hard to build. 

“These programs make us feel seen and build a community on campus,” he said. “That is how we fight this, being together.” 
Amir Browm, junior 
While Amir is in a white dominated major, Neo impact has given him a sense of belonging throughout his college experience. 

Neo impact is a religious organization, where Amir was able to meet other black students and bond with them.

“We have bible study every week, and events on the weekends,” he said. 

Amir’s main concern about the bill is classes like Black Experience or Black History, which could be censored by the bill. He said he did not learn about black history in high school until he took courses in college like black experience and black images. 

“I would just be brainwashed going through my whole life,” he said, “but I would still be learning about George Washington and Thomas Edison.” 

“Why am I learning only a certain perspective about history, and if that’s the point, then why should I learn history at all?” 
Deandra Wright, junior
Every year, the Student Multicultural Center runs a program called Kupita Transiciones, which is a weeklong summer program where mentors help incoming students of color transition into college life. 

“Through that event I was able to feel more secure in my transition and myself to remind myself I am here for a reason,” she said. “I deserve to be in the room, and I deserve to create space for myself.” 

The main concern the bill raises for Deandra is the career opportunities she’s received through organizations like the Student Multicultural Center, which would most likely lose its funding through this bill. Without funding for these organizations, these opportunities will be lost for future students. 

“This is an accessibility and equity issue.”
Kristen Crider, senior
In 2020, Kristian and her friends painted the rock with the words, “Say Their Names.” It was then painted over with “white lives matter”, and then “blacks have no home here”. 

This is an experience she said she will never forget, and it made her feel unsafe. Everyone else expressed these same feelings about this incident. 

“It just showed the hate that was on campus,” she said. 

Her fear if this bill is passed is the hate will continue and get worse. 

“It slowly strips students of having a sense of identity on campus, and history will slowly repeat itself,” he said. “If this bill passes, what else will pass.” 
Jade north over, senior
In the beginning years of Jade’s college experience, an email from Black United Students caught her attention and made her feel like she had a home here. 

“My first time on campus I didn’t know about BUS,” she said. “I remember I got an email that said, ‘as a black student you’re always a black united student.’”

Now, Jade is the director of programming for Sister Circle, another organization for women of color on campus empowering them culturally, socially and professionally.

When talking about the bill, she expressed frustration. She said Black United Students at Kent State are the ones who first started Black History Month, and now this bill is trying to limit or even cut their funding. 

“Where exactly are we going with this and why?” 
jade Corey, junior
When Jada first started college, she said she did not know about the events the Student Multicultural Center and Black United Students put on. She said she was always at home or in class, and even at Kent State events, she felt outnumbered. 

“You don’t feel the same comfort in those other spaces,” she said. 

Eventually, she found Sister Circle and Black United Students, where she was able to feel comfortable. A good memory for Jada is the BUS cookouts, which happen every August before the start of the school year.

“They feel like a family cookout,” she said. “Just in your backyard, grilling, doing dances, playing games, and hanging out with people who look like you.” 

Her concern with Senate Bill 83 is future students will not be able to find the same community and events since they were difficult for her to discover already. 

“If you take away sister circle, the events or the student multicultural center it’s like I don’t really have a place here in a sense.” 

These students are urging the release of a statement in opposition to Ohio bill 83 by Kent State University by May 7, in support of students under Diversity, Equity and inclusion.
published in the burr
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