Spencer Thompson, Emily De Waard
Reporter, Editor in Chief
Freedom of speech on college campuses was a hot topic again at with Students’ Association this week.
SENATE BILL 198
Senators discussed Resolution 17-16-R opposing Senate Bill 198, which aims to provide protection for free speech on public college campuses.
Much support was shown for the resolution, citing SB 198 as unnecessary because of already protected rights. Senators in support of 17-16-R argued SB 198 is identical to House Bill 1073, which the body opposed Jan. 31. 17-16-R, opposing SB 198, passed 23-5.
South Dakota State senators attended Students for Higher Education Days Sunday and Monday in Pierre.
SHED is the largest student lobbying event in South Dakota. There, senators met with the Executive Director of the Board of Regents Michael Rush about legislation and exchanged ideas with student governments from other regental institutions. They also learned about lobbying practices, discussed legislation with current legislators and attended committee meetings.
Also at SHED, the Student Federation voted on several pieces of legislation, including SB 198, HB 1299 and HB 1199.
President Taylin Albrecht, State and Local Government Chair Spencer Harwood and Administrative Assistant Allyson Monson (acting for Vice President Allyson Helms), all took opposing stances on these bills.
SB 198 was not discussed among SDSU’s Senate body until after the Student Federation meeting, where SDSU’s body also took an opposing stance on it (23-5).
“It was a judgment call,” President Albrecht said. “But we felt that we had that conversation leading up to the meeting because (SB 198) was the exact same structure as 1073. If (our body’s vote) had been a closer vote then it probably would have been a different story, but since we passed (a resolution opposing HB 1073) 20-7, we felt we could accurately represent our body. Plus, there’d been a first reading of SB 198 at our previous meeting.”
SA already opposed HB 1199 in last week’s meeting by passing Resolution 17-15-R. HB 1199 aims to prohibit BoR employees from collectively bargaining or otherwise self-organizing, such as to negotiate wages, hours or other terms or conditions of employment.
As for HB 1299, there has not been a resolution drafted by SDSU’s SA body. Yet, President Albrecht, Administrative Assistant Monson and State and Local Government Chair Harwood opposed it at SHED.
HB 1299 revises provisions regarding lawful possession of firearms in certain locations. It reads:
“No building, structure, park, campus, or other area may be posted as a firearm-free zone unless any person entering the area is required to pass through an electronic device to detect the presence of a firearm on the body of that person or unless personnel trained by the entity or a delegate of the entity posting the area are located in the area. The provisions of this section do not apply to: (1) Any county courthouse; (2) The state capitol; or (3) Any law enforcement office or building.”
Most of the other regental universities in Student Federation also had not taken a stance on HB 1299, according to Albrecht.
“It wasn’t exactly a higher-ed-related bill,” Albrecht said. “Universities could be affected, but since it wasn’t higher-ed related, that’s why others didn’t take a stance.”
Albrecht said SA has talked about HB 1299 with their constituents and amongst their body, as well as learned more about the bill from the BoR, and said she felt their body was well enough informed to take opposition.
Administrative Assistant Monson said the resolution they supported, which opposed HB 1299, “solidified conversations” they’d had about the bill.
The slate for SA President and Vice President nominations was opened. Sen. Cole McDougall nominated Administrative Assistant Monson for President and State and Local Government Chair Harwood for Vice President.
Other matters covered at Monday’s meeting included Amendment 17-04-A, which would require signatures on petitions to be verified by the Office of Student Affairs, and allow candidates more time to collect additional signatures if needed. It passed unanimously.
Senate moved quickly on the proposed constitution for the Student Collaboration for the Advancement and Promotion of Pharmacy, which aims to bring together pharmacy organizations under one organization. The constitution passed early in the meeting.
Finance Chair Scott Simons presented on a special allocation request from the SDState CubeSat team for $3,000. The Finance Committee, Simons reported, recommended an allocation of zero dollars. The recommendation was approved by SA.
Amendments 17-06-A and 17-07-A were given first readings. 17-06-A struck a portion of a clause in Senator petitions including the University College as that will dissolve through strategic realignment. 17-07-A aims to require a two-thirds vote to waive the second reading of resolutions.
SA will not meet next week because of Presidents Day, but will resume the following week at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26 in the Lewis and Clark room of The Union.