July 8, 2019
The South Dakota Board of Regents of Higher Education (SDBOR) met on the South Dakota State University campus Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27, 2019. The meeting included a public conversation about intellectual diversity, a topic that has been under discussion by the SDBOR and the South Dakota state legislature for several years.
Students’ Association President Allyson Monson and Vice President Corey Berscheit were among those testifying during the public conversation. Their testimony is included below.
Further information from the SDBOR about free speech and intellectual diversity is available via the SDBOR website. Additional written testimony from the public conversation is available through the SDBOR meeting agenda.
The following testimony was provided to the SDBOR by Students’ Association President Allyson Monson and Vice President Corey Berscheit:
South Dakota Board of Regents,
First, we would like to begin by thanking you for the opportunity to testify. This invitation demonstrates the Board’s commitment to hearing the students’ voices in all matters of higher education in our state.
We are testifying on behalf of more than 12,000 students of South Dakota State University. Our goal today is to bring their voices forward and aid in the Board’s responsibility to prepare an annual report that “(1) Sets forth all the actions taken by each institution to promote and ensure intellectual diversity and free exchange of ideas; and (2) Describes any events or occurrences that impeded intellectual diversity and free exchange of ideas.” To do this, Corey and I will first outline the reporting process South Dakota State University currently has for students to utilize in the case of any violations of intellectual diversity and showcase the free exchange of ideas we have seen this last year.
Currently, there are many avenues for students to report concerns related to intellectual diversity, including the Title IX office and Ombudsperson office. Contact information for both of these offices is easily accessible through our university website at SDState.edu. Contact information and procedures are outlined for students on the site’s Concerns and Complaints page so they can connect with the correct office according to their concern. Every student also holds the right to report to any administrator concerning intellectual diversity. If students wish to remain anonymous, SDSU utilizes Lighthouse Reports as another method of reporting. This reporting mechanism has been our main focus in matters of intellectual diversity. Lighthouse Reports can be utilized through a toll-free hotline or an online form, both of which allow for anonymous submissions. Finally, our own student government, the SDSU Students’ Association, provides a free legal aid to all SDSU students. Our legal aid can provide legal insight and advise in all legal practices including intellectual diversity. She is available weekly for appointments in person and by phone. Let it be known to date we have not been made aware of any reports or violations of intellectual diversity.
The free exchange of ideas on SDSU’s campus is apparent when spending even a few days on campus. Walk through Main Street of our Student Union during the academic year and you will see dozens of student groups promoting their ideas and programs. These groups range widely in programmatic interests, political ideologies, religious backgrounds, and overall beliefs. But the reach and breadth of ideas goes farther than our student organizations. Our invited guest speakers and performers also provide a broad range of ideological diversity. Take, for example, April 15th of this year: SDSU’s Turning Point USA chapter hosted Cabot Phillips, a conservative political activist and television personality known for his publication CampusReform.org, who delivered a speech entitled “Liberal Privilege on Campus.” That same day, historian, author, and political commentator Doris Kearns Goodwin joined our campus for the Daschle Dialogues. In just one day, two speakers from two different ideologies visited SDSU, giving tremendous points of view from different perspectives to our students. Of course, this is just one day at State. There are countless other examples of how our university allows for a breadth of ideas to be freely shared.
We thank you once more for being invited to testify. If you have any further questions concerning the reporting process or intellectual diversity efforts at SDSU, please do not hesitate to contact myself at SDSU.SAPresident@sdstate.edu or Corey at SDSU.SAVicePresident@sdstate.edu.
South Dakota State University
Students’ Association President
South Dakota State University
Students’ Association Vice President
The Students’ Association is comprised of all General Activity Fee-paying students at SDSU. The Students’ Association Senate is the official student government organization at SDSU, consisting of 28 senators representing each of the academic colleges and the student body president and vice president. The Students’ Association Senate meets weekly during the academic year on Mondays at 7:00PM in the Lewis & Clark Room of the Student Union. Further information is available at sa.sdstate.edu. Questions or media inquiries should be directed to SDSU.SACommunications@sdstate.edu.
South Dakota State University Students’ Association
University Student Union 128, Box 2815
Brookings, SD 57007