Dakota State University Professor Joseph Bottum, professor of cyber-ethics and director of the Classics Institute at Dakota State University, has an essay just posted to the Washington Free Beacon website about intellectual diversity on campus, specifically discussing how the battle has come to a head within the halls of government in South Dakota:
The failure of American colleges to promote free speech and intellectual diversity is like an open wound. It stains the imagination, obscuring paths of investigation with a sick puss. It drains the vitality of thought, leaving the mind weakened. And it strains intellectual discourse—the Socratic ideal of conversation—by making us fearful, anxious, and self-censoring.
Ideas deserve better treatment. The life of the mind requires a more nurturing care than we now give it in the multitrillion-dollar temple of education that we have constructed with America’s colleges and universities.
It is a deep observation of political theory that when culture fails, law steps in. The Midwestern states, for example, are exploring legal solutions to the national problem of campus culture. In South Dakota, for example, the legislature is considering a bill to require the state’s public universities to promote free speech and intellectual diversity—and this week the House Education Committee approved advancing the bill by a 9 to 6 vote. The bill also demands that students at South Dakota’s public universities take classes in American history and government, and prove their studies by passing a test of the questions on a citizenship exam.
This is only the latest in a series of battles between the Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s universities, and the legislature, which funds them. And not surprisingly, the Board of Regents is mounting an attack on the bill as it reaches the floor of the state House of Representatives.
The regents may have a reasonable point about the bill’s failure to provide funding for its mandates. But when they argue that the bill is unnecessary, given recent changes in free-speech policy at the state universities, the regents are on shakier ground. The failure of American academia to find a solution to its current cultural dilemmas is precisely what invites legislatures to step in.
Keep an eye on the issue as it continues to progress here at dakotawarcollege.com!