SGA Email Signature Resolution Passes
4 mins read

SGA Email Signature Resolution Passes

Tuesday’s February 20 Student Government Association’s (SGA) weekly meeting ran for nearly two and a half hours in a discussion of policy and resolution.

During the student feedback portion of the meeting, law student and South Dakota Student Regent Brock Brown expressed his concerns about a proposed SGA resolution regarding the South Dakota Board of Regent’s (SDBOR) recently enacted Communications and Branding Policy.

The policy aims to create “standards and expectations for institutional communication”. It prohibits certain expressions of students and faculty in email signatures and has faced criticisms about its exclusion of items like personal pronouns and tribal affiliation. 

“Faculty and students at USD have concerns about how this policy can affect them and the important things it leaves out,” Senator Sam Markley said. 

The Board of Regents elected to have a first and final reading of the policy, differing from their procedure of two readings and discussion prior to passing a proposed policy.

The proposed SGA Resolution #21 was drafted in response to the SDBOR’s Communications and Branding policy that was passed at the December SDBOR meeting in Brookings. 

“The policy is protecting the University’s brand,” Brown said. 

At the February 13 SGA meeting, Senators expressed the Board intentionally excluded student feedback about the policy. Brown disagreed, arguing the Board gives many opportunities for students to provide feedback and express their concerns.

“This is contributing to a long term frustration with Board of Regents policies being enacted as emergency, without adequate feedback from students,” Vice President Libby Brust said. 

Brust compared student and faculty frustrations with the disbandment of the Center for Diversity and Community in 2021 to the current discussion of the email signature policy.

When asked about the motivation of the SDBOR to prohibit pronoun use, Brown answered with a Supreme Court Case from 1958 that he believed would uphold the SDBOR policy. 

Throughout the meeting, Brown criticized SGA’s proposed senate resolution and denounced the body’s rhetoric. He emphasized what he believes his responsibilities are to students, SGA and the Board of Regents. 

“My goal as a member of the student body is to have the Student Government Association be effective advocates for students, like myself, to outside entities such as the Board of Regents and the State Legislature…This resolution does not further your goals,” he said. 

The proposed resolution was in its second reading and discourages the application of the BOR policy, citing concerns for students with gender ambiguous names, student employees and faculty. The resolution encourages further collaboration with SDBOR.  

One of the mechanisms for students to communicate with the Board of Regents is through South Dakota Student Federation, a body of elected representatives from all six SDBOR universities. 

At South Dakota Board of Regents meetings, there is an allotted time for Student Federation representatives to give comments and feedback to the Board. 

In that December meeting, Brown said that Student Federation representatives were invited to give their feedback on the policy to the Regents both during the meeting and socially. USD’s representatives were not present for the meeting.

The week of the Brookings December meeting was also finals week on USD’s campus. Vice President Libby Brust said this was the reason for USD’s representative’s absence. 

Swanson and Brust said they brought their concerns about the Communications and Branding Policy to the Student Federation for their January meeting. 

Senate resolution #21 passed at the end of the meeting with a two-thirds majority. The Board of Regents will meet on April 3rd and 4th, where further discussion of the policy and resolution is expected.  

The Volante will continue to follow this story. Visit our website for our most up to date coverage. SGA meetings are live streamed in the Freedom Forum and available for viewing on their Facebook page.