SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – There’s a new hotline for people to voice concerns about South Dakota’s universities.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem announced the hotline in a news release calling for South Dakota to be “an example to the nation of what quality higher education should look like.”
In a news release, Noem said the “whistleblower hotline” is for students, parents, taxpayers and faculty to call and voice concerns. The number is (605) 773-5916.
You can listen to what the hotline says when you can in in the audio file below.
“This hotline was created for students and faculty to keep our universities accountable to South Dakota values,” the recording says. “And be an example to the nation of what good higher education looks like.”
In a statement to KELOLAND News Shuree Mortenson, a spokeswoman for the Board of Regents, said the hotline is being managed by the governor’s office and the BOR is still reviewing the contents of the letter.
“The South Dakota Board of Regents received Governor Noem’s letter as it was released to the public,” Mortenson said. “The letter contained several goals that the Board of Regents has worked on for several years. This letter, along with our internal Strategic Plan and Senate Bill 55 Legislative Taskforce, presents solutions to support the growth of South Dakota’s workforce through our public universities.”
Noem sent a four-page letter to the Board of Regents calling for “the responsibility of revitalizing the institutions under its control and leading the nation by example.”
You can read the letter attached below.
Noem’s letter says the BOR schools have a 47% of graduation rate and the national average in 2020 was 63%.
In addition Noem asked for action items on:
- Remove all references to preferred pronouns in all school materials and any enforcement of such;
- Remove any policy or procedure that prohibits students from exercising their right to free speech;
- Prohibit drag shows from taking place on university campuses;
- Find ways to cut costs to ensure the affordability of college;
- Require a course in American Government and a course in American history as part of the general education graduation requirements; and,
- Immediately review all funding sources of university centers and all donations to ensure there is no money coming into our education system from China.
One month ago, Noem tweeted her support of South Dakota’s public universities.
“When attending college in SD, you’re getting what you pay for: top-tier education, a fantastic learning environment, and a community that’s here to help you succeed in future careers!” Noem tweeted on April 22 with a link to “thecollegefix.com.”
In May, the BOR passed a new policy that will prohibit minors from attending university sponsored events, or external events held on campus, which include specific sexual activities, obscene live conduct or any material meeting the definition of “harmful to minors.”
The policy was inspired by a recent drag show hosted by the South Dakota State University Gender and Sexualities Alliance group. Backlash to the show included criticism from state lawmakers and advocacy groups requesting the university not allow children to attend the event that was advertised as family friendly.
Noem appointed Doug Morrison of Sioux Falls and Jim Lochner of Dakota Dunes to the Board of Regents on May 2. The release Thursday noted that Noem “will be making additional BOR appointments in the near future.”
Four of the board’s current members are serving terms that have expired. They include John Bastian of Belle Fourche, Pam Roberts of Pierre, Jim Thares of Aberdeen and Joan Wink of Howes.
Then-Governor Dennis Daugaard initially appointed Bastian in 2014, Roberts in 2016, and Thares and Wink in 2017.
Capitol Bureau reporter Bob Mercer contributed to this story.