PIERRE, S.D. (TND) — South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a bill into law Monday which will prohibit public colleges and universities from compelling students and faculty to engage in critical race theory trainings or orientations.
The bill, HB 1012, is meant to “protect students and employees at institutions of higher education from divisive concepts,” according to the legislation.
The bill describes “divisive concepts” in a list within its text. Examples include: calling meritocracy or a strong work ethic racist or sexist; declaring individuals are inherently racist based on their race, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin; and asserting that by virtue of one’s race, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin, individuals are responsible for the actions committed in the past by others with those same immutable characteristics.
The list of "divisive concepts" also includes any topic that makes students or faculty “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin,” according to the bill.
No student or teacher should have to endorse Critical Race Theory in order to attend, graduate from, or teach at our public universities,” Noem said in a statement. “College should remain a place where freedom of thought and expression are encouraged, not stifled by political agendas.
The legislation states that any institution under the control of the Board of Regents or the Board of Technical Education may not compel students or faculty to “personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to divisive concepts.”
Noem also signed 11 other wide-ranging education bills Monday, which included authorizations for new education infrastructure, appropriations for health sciences education equipment, revisions regarding the teacher’s compensation review board, and many more.
“This session, we also made targeted investments in job training for key career fields like nursing and skilled manufacturing,” Noem continued. “We want our kids and grandkids to get the best training possible so that they can fill available jobs right here in South Dakota.”