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South Dakota protects free speech on campus

The College Fix’s staff reporter Graham Piro reported on South Dakota’s recent legislative push to protect free speech and intellectual diversity on campus.

The article explains how the push for the legislation started:

South Dakota may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of political correctness, but even this deep-red Midwestern state has experienced attacks on free speech on its college campuses. Most of the incidents have taken place at the state’s flagship school, the University of South Dakota. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education gives the university a “yellow” rating for speech policies that “too easily encourage . . . administrative abuse and arbitrary application.”

It also breaks down the impacts of the law, and ways the legislation could have been stronger:

The law requires the state’s six public universities to maintain a commitment to the principles of free expression and to “encourage the timely and rational discussion of topics in an environment that is intellectually and ideologically diverse.” It designates outdoor areas as a public forum for free expression and calls for annual reports from the board of regents on how schools fostered intellectual diversity, along with descriptions of events that impeded the free exchange of ideas.

But while the bill represents a victory for free speech, it could have been stronger. An early draft called for more specifics in defining what events colleges were required to report, including attempts to block or prohibit a speaker, and disciplinary action resulting from speech-related activities. This language was removed from later versions. The bill also lacks detailed enforcement mechanisms. But according to Peterson, “if the campuses fail to comply with this law, there will be a swift and significant legislative response, I can assure you.”

Read the piece, published at National Review Online, here.

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