On January 11, members of the Utah State Legislature introduced House Bill 261 (HB 261), which proposes a common-sense approach to keeping politicized ideologies out of its institutions of higher education.
Rep. Katy Hall and Sen. Keith Grover announced the bill, titled Equal Opportunity Initiatives, which prohibits state-funded institutions from “engaging in discriminatory practices.” This includes the prohibition of requiring faculty candidates applying to the University of Utah, home of the only medical school in the state, to commit to a particular ideology as a condition of employment.
HB 261 also requires these institutions to maintain a neutral stance on political issues and protect freedom of speech on university campuses and in the workplace. The bill centers on preventing discriminatory practices based on race or sex, including mandatory training sessions that push divisive philosophies that obstruct fairness and open dialogue.
“[O]ur colleges and universities must focus on their core missions of embracing academic excellence, fostering innovation, and cultivating a free marketplace of ideas,” Rep. Hall stated. “This legislation aims to support all students and faculty while promoting an environment of free, diverse, and open opinions.”
That’s good advice for the University of Utah School of Medicine’s ophthalmology residency program, which had a federal civil rights investigation opened in late 2022 for a clinical and research rotation that excludes white, Asian, and Middle Eastern applicants. And, as Do No Harm has demonstrated, the school has a history of pushing implicit bias training onto the staff and faculty search committees. The introduction of HB 261 is an important step toward restoring merit as the top qualification for faculty recruiting and hiring and ensuring an environment of genuine learning for Utah’s future healthcare professionals.
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