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SB 45 Repeals the Annual Intellectual Diversity Repor

Senate Bill (SB) 45, which would repeal the annual intellectual diversity report for South Dakota colleges passed the Senate Education Committee. The requirement for an intellectual diversity report was originally introduced in 2019. 

Shane Nordyke, a USD political science professor, said the bill was created in order to assess whether or not the intellectual activities occurring on campus were diverse. 

“It’s basically just doing away with the requirement for the Board of Regents to issue an annual report on all of the intellectual diversity activities that are happening on campuses…,” Nordyke said. “The original idea behind the list was there is this perception that there was a lack of intellectual diversity on university campuses, or that in particular, some voices were being left out of the larger conversation so that when you came to a university campus, you were really only hearing one side of an issue and not all sides of the issue.”

Nordyke said the report did not prove there is a lack of intellectual diversity. 

“They really thought there was going to be a clear, definitive lack of intellectual diversity and there just isn’t the evidence of that,” Nordyke said.  “If you look at the types of topics that are covered on campus, the types of speakers the perspectives left and right, the perspectives from the natural sciences and the humanities, in the social sciences, like there’s just a huge diversity of different ways of talking about issues and different things that we’re talking about.” 

Michael Card,  USD Emeritus political science professor, said there’s a lot of background and context behind SB 45. 

“I think a lot of it was. I believe that many conservatives believe that the university is filled with people who are politically liberal, and that we are indoctrinating their children in ways that refute the parents’ belief. And that was some of the testimony of the individuals involved,” Card said. 

“The narratives behind the intention of these types of bills claim to promote free speech, but often put limits on free speech itself,” Card said. 

“Despite the best intent, we still have these divisive issues and on the one hand, they’re designed to promote free speech,” Card stated. “But on the other hand, some of these issues are very much designed to limit free speech and that’s why the critical race theory or the issues of diversity, you know, diversity, equity and inclusion, which we know helps people…” 

Card said academic freedom is a defining part of the makings of a university. Academic freedom allows for students and professors to explore new ideas.

“The history of the modern university as we know it today really comes from 1810 with Humboldt University in Berlin,” Card said. “And that was where faculty were directed to have the freedom to pursue their own interests… What Humboldt University tried to do was to create a situation where professors would explore new ideas that they found personally interesting, and then provide a venue for them to publish those and make them part of the broader environment. And that’s today what we would label is a concept largely called academic freedom, where professors have the right to publish materials that reflect their own opinions.”