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Board of Regents: Academic Freedom Complaints at 0.001%

Mr. Mercer notes (linklessly, alas) on the South Dakota Board of Regents' Academic Freedom Report. This annual report fulfills a non-statutory requirement that the Regents annually detail "the steps that each of our universities is taking to ensure intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas." In other words, the Regents are reporting on whether they've caught any profs making students feel bad for not hewing to any particular party line, Communist, Republican, or otherwise.

Our six campuses appear to be handling that task reasonably well. The Regents note that out of 310,134 student enrollments in 17,112 sections, there were two meritorious complaints, both against one faculty member at Black Hills State University who was gently shown the door at the end of the last academic year.

There were no complaints from students, parents, or student organizations about academic freedom at Northern, Mines, or USD. SDSU received three nonmeritorious informal complaints, one from a student and two from parents (really, parents? Um, how old are your kids?). Most of the crabapples attend Dakota State, which fielded eight anonymous complaints from students and two anonymous complaints from parents, all non-meritorious.

The Regents note that the 0.001% meritorious complaint rate has not varied significantly since the first Legislature-soothing academic freedom report in 2006:

Faculty misconduct is so rare as to be immaterial. In 2010-2011, as in 2005-2006 before it, there was no evidence of a pattern of faculty misconduct that might be deemed to infringe student academic freedoms [South Dakota Board of Regents Committee on Academic and Student Affairs, Academic Freedom Report, Agenda Item I-D, Dec. 15-16, 2011].

Campus Guest Speakers
SDSU 198
USD 72

Along with detailing the absence of demonstrable, actionable oppression, the report offers a more positive metric of intellectual diversity: the number of guest speakers invited by each campus to address students and interested members of the public. Arguably, more such opportunities should enhance intellectual diversity on campus and give students more value for their tuition dollars. On this count, SDSU provides students with more opportunities to hear more outside voices than all five other campuses combined. Among our four small campuses, our two Black Hills campuses appear to bring in more speakers than our two small East River campuses.

Plus, at Mines and BH, you get snowboarding on the weekend.

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