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First Amendment or Indoctrination
By Ramblin’ Rose

“Actions speak louder than words.” We have all heard, and probably said, that adage many times. Yet on college campuses, where information is to be exchanged and knowledge acquired, that is not always the case. The news media frequently reports on the cancellation of visit by a conservative or Christian speaker due to protests by “enlightened” leftists. If they do attempt to make their speech, they are frequently attacked, physically and verbally.

Many universities announce comfort toys, therapy dogs, massages in de-stressing spaces for students facing final exams. It seems that Snowflakes do melt. Are these young adults who are learning to develop their own informed decisions or sponges ready to follow the indoctrination of left-wing progressive educators?

In March, 2019, South Dakota’s Republican governor Kristi Noem signed HB 1087. Upon signing the bill into law (effective July 1, 2019) she stated, “Our university campuses should be places where students leave their comfort zones and learn about competing ideas and perspectives…I hope this bill lets the nation know that, in South Dakota, we are teaching our next generation to debate important issues, work together to solve problems, and think independently.”

Diversity? It’s a buzzword that has become a part of the PC vocabulary and had its meaning warped by the Left to be a tool to limit free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. It now symbolizes ‘inclusivity’ as long as the Left determines who is to be included and which ideologies MUST BE embraced by their exclusive definition of ‘tolerance.’ Anyone who tries to express, or worse, practice conservative and/or Christian values MUST BE silenced. This left-wing ideology emanates from diversity offices housed on almost all postsecondary campuses, promoting social justice causes and requiring students, faculty and staff to attend safe space training, suppression of white-identify workshops, drag shows and a plethora of other perverse topics.

In South Dakota, lawmakers estimate that diversity offices cost about $6 million annually and employ 31 people…without improved results for minority/diverse students.

Native Americans comprise the largest minority in South Dakota. Yet they are still struggling to graduate. What are those diversity programs doing for them? One of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Sue Peterson, asked that question. In her review of report from the state’s diversity office reports, she noted references to safe zone training, social justice training and oversight of university hiring projects. She did not report on assistance to Native American students.

The executive director of the Board of Regents claims that “the role of diversity offices is to prepare students to work among other cultures. Businesses that recruit students want employees who can be sent anywhere in the world and adjust to different cultures.”

Representative Peterson, whom I have not met, and I agree that the director’s statement is hollow, at best, and maybe just closer to a lie.

Doing a search for the characteristics that employers want in their employees, communication is still number one. So why not invest in teaching students the language of the company/country where they hope to work. Then they could communicate with the employer, co-workers (#7 on the list of the top 10 quality and skills sought by employers in prospective employees), and the host community.

If the language program is solid, the professors will use the professional standards of ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). All will use the target language (the one being learned) in order to gain the ability to communicate in the language…not in English. The company will not have to hire interpreters for the employee. (US-based company…Do you want your employees depending on local interpreters who may not have the best interests of your company in mind as they interpret…maybe to the benefit of the host-country administrators?)

Those professional standards also include ‘culture.’ Culture, properly taught, includes “products, practices and perspectives.” Traditionally, only products have been named and the practices of a few holidays mentioned. Rarely were the differing perspectives included. They MUST BE if there is to be transparent communication and deep understanding. (Culture classes are also taught in the target language so that English perspectives does not influence the interpretation.)

Let’s consider two examples.

In March, 2001, China downed a US military plane. They had to apologize but would not. However, someone who knew both the language and the culture (all 3 Ps) offered a face-saving resolution. In Chinese, there is a way to say you are sorry without saying that you are sorry. That was not found in a dictionary or on Google Translator. It came from a thorough understanding of the language and culture.

Not all who speak the same language (standard language, dialects and slang excluded) have the same culture. An international student from Peru told me that she had assumed that all Spanish-speaking peoples, at least in Latin America, shared the same perspectives. She was exposed to differences in a US university. She returned home with a better appreciation of the breadth of her own culture.

The insights to be successful as a tourist or professional in another country will not be attained through the programs offered by the diversity offices on US campuses. The executive director is wrong.

South Dakota is one of 17 states that passed legislation, signed by the governor, to protect the First Amendment. The media has not shared this as news. They reacted (negatively) to President Trump’s Executive Order 13864, signed on March 21, 2019. It decrees it to be federal policy to “…foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate.” It also directs this nation’s colleges and universities to protect free speech on campus or lose federal research funding.

The Board of Regents met in late June to determine how to operationalize the new law on July 1. We’re still waiting for a report. Their Facebook page provided a short report related to student organizations but nothing about this policy. Hmmmm.

But our neighbor has taken a brave step.

“Supporters are optimistic that the new South Dakota law will help to foster true intellectual diversity, as opposed to what they decry as the left-wing multiculturalist version of diversity that treats all cultures as equal and pressures students to conform.

The new law, known as HB 1087, prevents colleges from creating so-called free speech zones that limit free speech to a specific area on campus and requires the South Dakota Board of Regents, which administers the state’s six public universities, to file with the governor and state lawmakers a report each year identifying “events or occurrences” that “hinder intellectual diversity.”

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