BISMARCK – The North Dakota State House has once again debated and passed a bill prohibiting the penalization of people based on their support or opposition to specified concepts such as the idea that one race is privileged over another.
Senate Bill 2247 would prohibit state universities from conducting mandatory noncredit earning training that includes specified concepts, or penalizing a student or faculty member who does not support or oppose specified concepts, also known as divisive concepts, which are defined in the bill as the teaching that one race or sex is inherently privileged over another, and the teaching that the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist. The House previously concurred with Senate amendments to turn the bill into a study and moved Thursday to reconsider and not concur with the amendment.
“The majority of your Appropriations committee preferred to do a shall consider study,” said Rep. Karla Hanson, D-Dis. 44, Fargo. “The study would explore two areas of concern. Number one is the potential negative impact of specified concept laws on the accreditation of academic programs at our universities. The second is whether such legislation complies with state and federal laws, including if it conflicts with first amendment rights and if it conflicts with the constitutional authority of the higher ed board.”
Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Dis. 46, Fargo, said the bill does not tell professors what they can and cannot teach, but rather that students and staff cannot be discriminated against for supporting or opposing the specified concepts.
“It has nothing to do with accreditation,” said Kasper. “Those are all red herring arguments from my perspective. This is a bill that will protect freedom of speech on college campuses.”
“Continuing to deny that there is racial discrimination in North Dakota fosters a hostile environment for those that experience racism,” said Rep. Lisa Finley-DeVille, D-Dis. 4A, Newtown.
The motion to reject the amendment that would turn the bill into a study passed 51 to 38. The bill passed again by a vote of 50 to 39 and will be sent back to the Senate for reconsideration.