Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), one of USD’s newest student organizations, is working to promote free speech on campus.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) rates USD as a red light campus, which means that freedom of speech is restricted on campus, according to their guidelines for free speech.
Formed only two weeks ago, USD’s chapter of YAL is petitioning USD’s free speech policy.
USD’s free speech policy is the South Dakota Board of Regent’s (SDBOR) policy 3.3, which states that “institutions shall ensure the rights of free speech and expression and shall encourage the timely and rational discussion of topics whereby the ethical and intellectual development of the student body and general welfare of the public may be promoted.”
Brandon Fokkema, a political science major at Dordt College and the Iowa State chair for YAL, who helped start USD’s chapter, said YAL’s mission is to educate students about free speech policy.
“Young Americans for Liberty is an organization that strives to identify and educate students on campuses and strives to promote liberty, small government and a sober foreign policy by being committed to winning on principle,” Fokkema said.
The goal of YAL is to create an area where students can express themselves in a welcoming environment. Fokkema said YAL is an alternative to other political party organizations.
“We also strive to create a climate on campus conducive to the free expression and exchange of ideas among students,” Fokkema said.
YAL hopes to work with other campus organizations that share a mutual interest in free speech promotion, such as College Republicans.
“As a national organization, I think that a goal of YAL is to change the culture on campus,” said Fokkema. “YAL would like to see more liberty-loving students across America that are dedicated to the principles upon which our nation was founded.”
Jaedon Foreman, a sophomore economic major and vice president of College Republicans, said he helped circulate the free speech petition created by YAL.
Foreman said he’s passionate about free speech for all students.
“Right now, the policy is not inclusive and the university should do a better job to ensure that every student, no matter who they are or what they believe, that their free speech rights are upheld,” Foreman said.
The petition that Foreman and YAL circulated on campus called students to endorse the removal of free speech zones on campus in support of the First Amendment.
YAL had a goal of collecting 50 signatures but in a couple of hours, there were 80 students who signed the petition. The petition was sent to the Dean of Students’ office.
Foreman said the SDBOR should make schools decide free speech policies.
“I think the Board of Regents should allow schools to decide what free speech policy they want, but make sure schools are following First Amendment rights,” Foreman said. “But finding a balance on letting universities choose but upholding the rights of students.”
Kim Grieve, vice president and dean of students, has been to the legislation session which discussed the free speech policies on campus. Grieve said the proposed policy needs more information.
“I like the policy, but I think it needs more information in the policy. It’s short,” Grieve said.“We want to hear the ideas from students.”