South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (right) on Monday signed a law banning public universities in the state from using training and guidance materials that could cause race-based ‘discomfort’.
“No student or teacher should have to endorse critical race theory to attend, graduate or teach at our public universities,” Noem said in a statement. “The university must remain a place where freedom of thought and expression is encouraged, not stifled by political agendas.”
Noem says the state House Bill 1012 “prohibits colleges from requiring students and faculty to attend training or orientations based on critical race theory,” although the actual text of the measure makes no mention of critical race theory the race.
Instead, it lists seven “dividing concepts” that are prohibited from being a mandatory part of trainings for students or faculty members. It does not preclude teaching that racism is systemic in societal institutions, which is the framework of critical race theory.
South Dakota’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) previously said the measure curtails the rights of First Amendment educators and “creates more questions than answers.”
“It opens the door to a wide range of interpretations that could be used to chill free speech and academic freedom, discouraging open and honest discussions about systemic racism in classrooms and in communities across the country. higher education,” said Jett Jonelis, advocacy officer for the ACLU of South Dakota.
“This passing Bill 1012 shows the very need for the types of discussion our government is trying to ban,” Jonelis added.