Regents Pass First Reading Of New Free Speech Policy

Oct 3, 2018

The governing body of the state’s public universities is in the process of updating its free speech policies.

That comes after a push in the legislature this past session to update the Board of Regents free speech policy failed.

Others say free speech is already protected in the regents policy.

The South Dakota Board of Regents is passing a first reading of an update to their free speech policy.

Nathan Lukkes is general counsel for the Board of Regents office. He says the new policy is a slight modification of what’s become known as The Chicago Statement.

“It’s not a typical policy in the sense of laying out nuts and bolts,” Lukkes says. “It’s more of the system’s commitment to free speech and the expectations of the campuses to carryout this policy statement in the things that they do.”

Lukkes says the policy is intended to carry out what’s covered by the first amendment. He says the policy should guide campuses in applying the first amendment.

Libby Skarin is the policy director for the South Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She says there’s nothing in the policy that worries the organization.

“Anytime the government or a public university really makes a full throated defense of free speech and recommits to the principles of the first amendment, that’s a good thing,” Skarin says. “Looking at the policy itself, I’m not sure how necessary it is. I don’t know that the new policy changes the old policy. It’s certainly more longer and more thorough and more nuanced.”

Skarin says the core of the first amendment is still protected in the new policy.

A final vote on the policies will take place in December.