New York, NY (June 17, 2019) — The National Association of Scholars applauds South Dakota for its first-in-the-nation stand in favor of “intellectual diversity.” NAS, a national organization of academics, supported the legislature’s work on HB 1087, signed by Governor Kristi Noem on March 20. The NAS is now supporting the Board of Regents’ steps to implement the law.
“Intellectual diversity” is the idea that all sides of controversial issues should be aired in campus debates. Proponents of intellectual diversity say that campuses too often censor unpopular views or screen out ideas voiced by figures who are out of favor with students or faculty. “Intellectual diversity” differs from “free speech,” because it demands that universities actually seek out representatives of unpopular views, rather than simply allow the expression of such views when they occur on their own.
A few states, such as North Carolina, have taken steps to protect campus free speech. South Dakota is the first state to protect intellectual diversity.
The South Dakota Board of Regents, led by President Kevin D. Schieffer, has requested public comment on how to assess and foster intellectual diversity in the state’s public universities. The NAS has submitted a written comment, and NAS Director of Research David Randall will testify at the Board of Regents’ June 26 public hearing at South Dakota State University in Brookings.
The National Association of Scholars’ main recommendations are:
- Create an Office of Public Policy Events (OPPE) that will organize, publicize, and videorecord intellectually diverse debates.
- Replace the Social Science General Education Requirement with civics and American history requirements.
- Require intellectual diversity in college courses, general education requirements, course evaluations, common reading programs, and annual reviews.
NAS commends the Regents for their enthusiasm in bringing the spirit of HB 1087 to life in South Dakota’s public universities.