The South Dakota Senate has passed a proposal from Gov. Kristi Noem to ban public universities and technical colleges from using training and orientation material that compels people to feel “discomfort” based on their race.
The bill’s passage on a 27-8 vote was its final major hurdle in the Legislature. A similar measure for K-12 public schools was killed by a Senate committee last week.
Noem has billed the proposal as a repudiation of so-called “critical race theory,” but critics warn it will put a chill on academic freedom and sanitize the most painful facts of U.S. history.
HB 1012 was amended heavily from Noem’s proposal and backers say it’s very narrow in scope, defining 7 divisive concepts and applying to only training and orientation sessions.
Rapid City State Senator Jessica Castleberry says universities and technical colleges can still offer classes and hold discussions on Critical Race Theory, they just can’t adopt divisive concepts at the institutional level.
Opponents of the bill say it goes against the First Amendment and will stifle free speech on college campuses.