Ohio State revises coercive belief pledge following FIRE letter

August 10, 2020

FIRE asked the Ohio State University last week to walk back its unconstitutional “Together As Buckeyes Pledge,” which had required students and faculty returning to campus to sign a statement about their personal beliefs.

On Friday, after a conversation with FIRE, OSU announced that the pledge would be revised “to clarify that while the pledge states that Ohio State’s values are fundamental guiding principles of the institution, there is no requirement for individual affirmation of those values in the pledge.”

In the new pledge, OSU eliminated the language requiring students and faculty to affirm their belief in certain statements. The revised pledge focuses instead on the values of the institution:

Ohio State is a values driven institution and is mindful of its guiding principles as it navigates a return to campus. The University values are excellence in all that we do; embracing diversity in people and ideas; fostering the inclusion of all Buckeyes; allowing for access and affordability of an Ohio State education; subscribing to innovation around keeping the Buckeye community safe; relying on collaboration and multidisciplinary endeavors to guide best practices; and emphasizing the importance of transparency, integrity and trust.

As we pointed out in our letter, the pledge’s original language requiring students and faculty to affirm their belief in certain “Buckeye values” as a condition to return to campus amounted to unconstitutional compelled speech

FIRE was pleased to see Ohio State respond swiftly to our letter and act to protect the First Amendment rights of its community.

Have you seen or experienced similar policies at other colleges and universities? Submit a case to FIRE.


Schools:  The Ohio State University

Cases:  The Ohio State University: Students and Faculty Required to Sign Belief ‘Pledge’