RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) – South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is one of the public universities defending themselves after a law maker accuses the schools for “slow walking” to uphold a bill.
House Bill 1087was passed last spring pushing universities to ensure free speech and intellectual diversity on campus.
It’s an idea the school was already supporting.
“If a student in a class felt like the message they heard didn’t represent their opinion they should be able to speak up and express their opinion without having to worry about any kind of retributions in terms of grades or other acts. And we agree with that. We think that makes a lot of sense,” South Dakota School of Mines and Technology President Jim Rankin said.
One student said legislators cannot govern schools if they do not actively visit them.
“They don’t know what’s happening on a campus. So for them to try to tell us how we should be talking about free speech and how should we handle it doesn’t sound right,” Nayda Jones said.
Another student said she has never felt compromised sharing her opinions on campus.
“I am a huge advocate for the first amendment and I feel like it’s been upheld as far as my experience at the university. However, I can’t deny other students have faced issues in the past and I very much appreciate that they are taking the steps to prevent those issues in the future,” RyAnne Blau, Student Federation Chair, said.
One of the major changes the school made is in regards to people unaffiliated with the school.
“You still have an opportunity to come to campus but we want you to let us know ahead of time so if we have to make arrangements. We want to make sure to protect our staff and our students,” Rankin said.
Rankin said next spring the university will do a campus climate survey with their students to gauge how they feel.
Though it’s not a new practice, this year all six of the public state universities will use the same system.