Senators talk state legislation, Barry Dunn sees double rainbow


SDSU President Barry Dunn

SDSU President Barry Dunn photographed a double rainbow from his farm north of Brookings.

Jacob Boyko, News Editor

South Dakota State University President Barry Dunn addressed the Students’ Association about the university’s legislative goals in Pierre this year and softly hinted his support for SA’s pro-LGBTQ agenda. 

Dunn began his address by reminding the Senate that by the Chinese lunar calendar, the world is entering into the year of the rabbit. 

“Who won the FCS championship this year?” Dunn joked. “The Jackrabbits!”

Dunn also announced to the Senate he attended the Martin Luther King Jr. “marade” last week. 

“I’m kind of embarrassed [the marade] was our first one, but I think everyone has pledged to make it our first but [not] our last one.”

Dunn commended the Black Student Alliance for their leadership in putting on the march and parade. 

SDSU hosted girls basketball teams from three Sioux Falls middle schools at the beginning of the semester. It’s the fourth group of middle schoolers SDSU has hosted this year, Dunn said, adding that the university’s goal is to have 1,000 middle school students tour campus this year.  

University Boulevard, the street connecting the main campus to 22nd Avenue, will be torn up for underground maintenance. According to Dunn, half of the road will be torn up this summer with the remainder of the project taking place the following year. Improvements include updated sewer and storm water lines, widened lanes and a boulevard with a sign at the end by 22nd Avenue. 

“…A lot of people have gotten stuck [on University Boulevard], so we’re going to do some snow mitigation to help,” Dunn said. “That’s a really important entryway to the campus so I’m very excited about it.”

Dunn announced he was traveling to Pierre Tuesday along with Vice President for Finance and Budget Michael Holbeck, Provost Dennis Hedge, SA President Blake Pulse and SA Vice President Hannah Shane to attend the legislature’s budget hearing. 

The Board of Regents and six regental campuses are looking to secure about $10 million more to keep tuition and fees flat for another year, which would make next year the third year without an increase, Dunn said. Otherwise, Governor Kristi Noem’s proposed 5% raise for state employees could cause the cost of tuition to increase. 

Dunn said the university needs to secure funding to finish the POET Bioprocessing building, the dairy farm rebuild, repair buildings damaged in the derecho last May and to do “major renovations” in McFadden Biostress, including a new HVAC system. 

Dunn ended his address by carefully signaling support for the Gender and Sexualities Alliance and other student organizations as the Board of Regents continues to crack down on events they believe don’t reflect the family-friendly image of college campuses. 

“I’ll let you read into this,” Dunn said. “One beautiful summer evening, out where Jane and I have our own home, there was a double rainbow that came right down on our farm. I took a picture of that, and I have that double rainbow picture in my office, and … many times I move that to a prominent place … depending on who’s visiting me. I’ll let you read between the lines and the message that I’m trying to send there, but it’s really important for me and for you to know my feelings on some of these issues.”

Jack Olson and Brock Aleshire, president and vice president of the Wild Hare Racing team, gave the Senate updates about the club. Each year, the team builds a formula-style race car and competes among about 125 other teams in the U.S.

This season, the team hopes to place within the top 25% of teams when they travel to Michigan in May for the national competition. 

Philip Black and Sam Meyer, president and vice president of the Quarter Scale Tractor Club, announced the club is preparing for the International Student Design Competition. Each year, the team builds a tractor for the competition in Illinois. Last year, there were 18 teams from around the world. Events at the competition include the sled pull, durability, maneuverability and safety. 

The Senate unanimously approved the club constitution for Young Americans for Liberty. 

“Basically, our club is a coalition of Libertarian and conservative students that we are training in grassroots lobbying,” Hannah Determan, the club’s vice president, said. 

The Senate also heard briefs from the Rodeo Team and KSDJ. 

The Senate passed three resolutions Monday. The first resolution, 22-15-R, expressed the Students’ Association’s support for Senate Bill 63, which would authorize the regents “to contract for the design and construction of a year-round rodeo practice facility on the campus of South Dakota State University, together with equipment and furnishings…” The resolution was passed with unanimous support. 

The next resolution, 22-20-R, expressed the Students’ Association’s support for House Bill 1079 and “any legislation that positively impacts mental health for college students.” Allocations in HB 1079 include a $4 million appropriation to the South Dakota Department of Health. The resolution was passed with unanimous support. 

The final resolution passed Monday was 22-12-R, titled “The SDSU Students’ Association continued support for the Gender and Sexualities Alliance and opposition of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.”

The resolution had 13 sponsors: Garrett Satterly; Blake Pulse; Anna Shane; Harley Fischer; Grant Sternhagen; Hannah Dayaget; Hayden Bentz; William Kessler; Madison Fitch; Michael Garofalo; Nicholas Grote; Betsey Williams; Mathew Schwarz. 

“Recent events sponsored by GSA have generated public backlash from South Dakota state legislators and citizens of South Dakota questioning the legitimacy of state funds and the group’s presence on the SDSU campus,” the resolution reads. 

Senators Caleb Huizenga and Tyler Rasmussen opposed the resolution.

“I think it would be more inflammatory,” Rasmussen said. “Extra attention can be negative for your guys’ community. Having them constantly watching you, watching for a slip up could potentially be very bad. In this case, it could be you guys tossing gas on top of a fire rather than water.”

The final vote was to 21 to 2. Sen. Mara Anderson voted present.