My name is Matthew Friedmann and I have the pleasure of serving as the student body president here at North Dakota State University, which means I speak on behalf of our nearly 13,000 students.

I have been a student at NDSU for the last five years where I am now a graduate student pursuing my master's in educational leadership. I have been closely following the developments surrounding SB 2030 and submitted testimony in opposition when it was in committee in the House. Its progression in the state legislature has continued to elevate my concerns regarding this blatant governmental overreach.

The core of any college experience is what we learn in the classroom and what academic opportunities are available to us. It is paramount that our academics and career opportunities are not dictated by the state legislature.

If the North Dakota Legislature were to adopt SB 2030 with the amendment that attacks academic freedom and student choice, NDSU would no longer be a beacon of learning. No longer a place for the free and open exchange of ideas like our University system was designed to be.

When we step in the classroom, we need to know beyond a doubt that the information we are being taught comes from professionals in the field and not from politicians a hundred miles away in Bismarck. When we seek out internships and educational opportunities, we need to know that the options available to use are not limited due to the political ideology of certain lawmakers.

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As a matter of principle, the approach these lawmakers have taken is a direct attack on our First Amendment freedoms. Imagine if lawmakers in California decided they didn’t want their public universities to have any connection with the Catholic Church. All they would have to do is follow the playbook just written by our lawmakers to achieve the same means yet a different end result.

This is the United States of America where we have the First Amendment, not a communist country like China that has no qualms regulating the creation of knowledge to fit their preferred narrative. Students come from all over the country to experience the rich learning environment at NDSU.

I hope our legislators choose to maintain our reputation as a top-ranked institution by rejecting any effort to interfere with academic freedom and student choice.

Matthew Friedmann is the student body president at North Dakota State University.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.