It’s refreshing to see this issue being taken seriously.

Frederick M. Hess writes at National Review:

South Dakota’s Efforts to Protect Speech on Campus Could Be a Model for the Nation

This Wednesday, June 26, the South Dakota Board of Regents will meet to discuss the implementation of one of the nation’s more forceful efforts to protect intellectual diversity and free inquiry on campus. Earlier this year, South Dakota enacted a new law intended to counter the stifling orthodoxy that weighs so heavily on the nation’s colleges and universities.

The bill, S.D. 1087, requires public institutions of higher education in the state to “maintain a commitment to the principles of free expression” and to foster civil, intellectually diverse environments. It protects student organizations from viewpoint discrimination, requires an annual report to the legislature on campus intellectual diversity and speech suppression, and safeguards the use of outdoor spaces as forums for free speech.

Unsurprisingly, the bill has been dismissed by the higher-education industry as burdensome and unnecessary. A member of the South Dakota Board of Technical Education objected, “It’s pretty certain to increase costly bureaucratic mandates . . . it’s likely to lead to lawsuits . . . [and] I don’t think it has much of an effect on campus speech at all.” Student government leaders from the University of South Dakota (USD) and South Dakota State (SDSU) testified in opposition to the bill, which the president of USD’s student government association called, “an attempt at a solution to a problem that does not exist.”

And yet, lots of evidence in recent years has suggested that there is a problem on South Dakota campuses.


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