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Noem writes letter 'challenging' state universities on performance, diversity

Approximately 20 people gathered outside the governor's mansion in Austin early Saturday morning. The small crowd was made up primarily of families who lost loved ones at the mass shooting in Uvalde. They pleaded that the governor raise the minimum age to purchase AR-15-style rifles.
Governor's Office
Governor's Office
Gov. Kristi Noem speaks with then-President Donald Trump

Governor Kristi Noem has issued a “challenge” to the state Board of Regents to improve their institutions.

In a press release, Noem published a letteraddressed to the regents decrying what she called “liberal ideologies poisoning universities and colleges” across the nation.

Further, the letter questions the importance of diversity, equity and safe spaces in educational settings, and suggests students should “learn to tolerate” disagreement and dissent.

Noem’s explicit challenges to the Board of Regents include banning drag performances from occurring on campuses and removing all references to preferred pronouns in all school materials.

"On campuses across the country, students have been taught the importance of diversity and equity and given access to ‘safe spaces’ instead of learning to tolerate the disagreement, discomfort, and dissent that they will experience in the real world," Noem said. "In many cases, students and their parents are not even aware of the damage these ideas have caused."

The governor also pushed the board to cut costs of higher education, increase the states graduation rates, and partner more closely with businesses and apprenticeship programs. Noem also says she wants the state education system to ensure no funding is coming from China.

A hotline has also been set up for students, parents, and taxpayers to call and report accountability and transparency concerns. It is unclear where funding for the hotline is coming from.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Board of Regents said they are still reviewing the contents of the letter. Further, the statement said there are goals included in the letter that have been shared by the Regents for years.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture