The South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) updated policies in December which will take effect in March. These policies include 1:17 “Harassment including Sexual Harassment” and 3:18 “Recognition and Funding of Student Organizations.”
SDBOR Policy 1:17
Before the update, this policy, determining “Harassment including Sexual Harassment,” defined harassment as:
“Conduct toward another person that has the purpose or the effect of creating is severe or pervasive enough to create an objectively and subjectively intimidating…environment that substantially interferes with the individual’s ability to participate in… or to realize the intended benefits of an institutional activity” (2.B.1)
The update now replaces “has the purpose or the effect of creating” with “is severe or pervasive enough to create.”
Nathan Lukkes, SDBOR general counsel, said in an email interview with The Volante that this change addresses the rights between an individual’s free speech and other individual’s participation within an institutional activity.
“In short, we are trying to strike a balance between competing individual rights with a clear standard that isn’t unnecessarily broad or vague,” he said.
Josh Sorbe, Student Government Association President, said the original line, “has the purpose or the effect of creating,” was too broad, and the line “severe and pervasive enough to create” was too narrow.
“In the final revisions, the definition became ‘conduct that is severe or pervasive enough to create an objectively,’ which we saw as a middle-ground definition balancing the line between empowering victims and opening the university up to potential false accusations,” he said.
SDBOR Policy 3:18
This policy, “Recognition and Funding of Student Organization,” determines how student organizations can receive funding from SGA.
The updated policies states student organizations recognized by the university can’t receive funding if 1) “it will be used for sectarian ceremonies or exercises,” 2) “promotion or opposition of particular candidates for public office or ballot issues in general elections, or financing off-campus lobbying or political activities of non-students,” or 3) “the organization generates income for the personal use and benefit of the sponsoring organization members or on behalf of for-profit entities.”
Sorbe said this revision changes the SGA funding criteria from “organization-based” to “activity-based.”
“For instance, we have a special appropriation for Yotes for Life seeing its first reading this week,” Sorbe said. “They’re looking to hold a blanket-tying activity in the pit to donate to expectant mothers in Sioux Falls. Prior to this revision, we would not have funded any activity requested by Yotes for Life as their organization has a portion of their constitution dedicated to advancing political issues. Now, however, we look at the specific activity (the blanket-tying), and deem this as apolitical.”
Lukkes said both policies weren’t updated in lieu of any specific issues in SDBOR schools.