Board of Regents approves first reading of minors on campus policy

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 4:55 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - After facing criticism for a family-friendly drag show hosted at SDSU last fall, the Board of Regents has introduced a new policy for campus events involving non-student minors.

The South Dakota Board of Regents met at Northern State University’s campus in Aberdeen on Thursday. During the meeting, the board approved the first reading of the Minors on Campus policy.

The new policy outlines requirements surrounding prohibited conduct at activities, programs and events on Board of Regents campuses. It also gives guidelines for requiring background checks for those supervising non-student minors.

“We’re really wanting to make sure that we have the appropriate protocols in place that when minors are invited to campus, that there’s appropriate supervision, that it’s done in a responsible fashion, that those that we entrust our children with have had background checks and are adequately prepared to supervise and take care of our children,” said SDBOR General Counsel Chief of Staff Nathan Lukkes.

The policy change was sparked after a family-friendly drag show was hosted last fall at South Dakota State University’s campus. Lukkes said, however, that the overall goal of the policy is to have ensured protections state-wide for non-student minors attending any event on a university campus.

”There are always improvements and things that come up as we host different events and recently, there was one where there were a few shortcomings or things that certainly could have been done better. So, we always want to keep improving and learning from issues that arise. That certainly helped inform and drive this policy. We try not to make it about any one specific event or issue because there are a whole host of events that we host or let people come onto campus. We need to keep doing that. We need to make sure that our policy enables that, but it does so in a safe and responsible fashion,” said Lukkes.

Lukkes said that college campuses already do prioritize the safety of non-student minors attending events or programs, but this policy just writes those standards into stone.

”Certainly, as a parent, there’s nothing more valuable than our prized possession than our children. So, when we entrust our children with others, we want to make sure that they have our best interests and our children’s best interests at heart, and by and large, they do,” said Lukkes.

ACLU of South Dakota Policy Advocate Samantha Chapman said she is concerned about the subjectivity of certain guidelines. Section prohibits non-student minors from attending events featuring “content that is patently offensive to prevailing community standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors.”

“A lot of the provisions of this policy are very good things. The thing that concerns me is Section It’s very subjective, especially when the Board of Regent schools span across the entire state. Ultimately, I don’t think that this policy would prohibit drag shows from being performed or minors from attending drag shows,” said ACLU of South Dakota Policy Advocate Samantha Chapman.

Dr. Neal Schnoor, Northern State University’s President, said the policy provides general guidelines for partners hosting events on their campus to follow.

”We are a hub for so many activities. Take for example, Boys State, who comes on campus, and we love that collaboration with them, but that helps provide them with guidance to make sure that they’re meeting these policies to keep our students safe in collaboration with us,” said Dr. Schnoor.

The Board of Regents said they are open to input from the public and stakeholders and are willing to make adjustments to the policy before its next reading at the Regent’s meeting on May 9th.