On South Dakota Public Radio this noon, Madison Daily Leader publisher emeritus Jon Hunter said Governor Kristi Noem’s scattershot declaration of woke-war on South Dakota’s august public universities last week probably won’t affect student decisions much:
Lori Walsh: If you were sending a child to college right now, a freshman, and this was coming out and you were having the conversation about, with your student who’s deciding whether to stay in state or go out of state, what would that dinner-table conversation be like?
Jon Hunter: I don’t think this letter would affect that. I think there are other factors, especially what is this student interested in, how will they be treated—um, I don’t think these are. no I think these are, not for—high school seniors would not make a decision to be in state or out of state, based on this [Jon Hunter, interviewed by Lori Walsh, “An Analysis of Gov. Noem’s Board of Regents Letter,” SDPB Radio: In the Moment, 2023.05.31; transcribed from audio by CAH/DFP].
Hunter also agreed with interviewer Lori Walsh that Noem’s broadside against the Regents reads like an agglomeration of Republican talking points (down with drag shows! up with civics requirements!), not intelligent education policy:
Walsh: I would be remiss if we didn’t also point out that this letter includes—I don’t want to say the word hodgepodge, I don’t know if that’s fair—but multiple topics that don’t seem to hang together. So, here is a conversation about graduation rates paired with a conversation about what students know about civics in America paired with a “don’t make people use the preferred pronouns” with a “don’t have any drag shows.” It’s very—it’s almost kitchen sink, throw in everything. Is it cohesive policy? I mean, I don’t know how anybody would even say it’s cohesive policy.
Hunter: Right. That’s the first thing that struck me when I read the letter, was, you’re talking about graduation rates and educational quality and so forth, then you jump over into safe spaces or some of the other things you just mentioned, and it doesn’t seem—it does seem, though, that several of these are certainly national issues, and they are Republican issues… [Walsh/Hunter, 2023.05.31].
When Jon Hunter doesn’t think you sound coherent, you have a serious composition problem.
Hunter and Walsh didn’t say much about the Governor’s new hotline for ratting out drag queens and other enemies of the state at our universities. But as of this evening, after technical glitches plaguing its hasty and evidently ill-planned roll-out, 605-773-5916 is once again playing the Board of Regents intro and its avowal to keep our universities accountable to “South Dakota values”, and the voicemail is available to concerned callers.
We can only hope that the hotline and its contents, if they ever see the light of day thanks to a reasonable open records request, will likely fade away with this letter as just another of Kristi Noem’s half-baked attention-grabbers that won’t have any lasting effect on most citizens practical decision-making or quality of life.