Boise State University is dragging its feet in releasing a copy of the contract the school signed with racist speaker Ibram X. Kendi. The university’s spokesman, Mike Sharp, sent the Idaho Freedom Foundation an email Wednesday that said it could take the school until Feb. 1 to locate the records we’re looking for: the contract with Kendi, costs, and terms for participating in BSU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration earlier this week.
That’s ridiculous. It’s an obvious misuse of the state’s public records law, and it’s designed to buy the school time as it gets ready to release what I expect will be embarrassing details of Kendi’s contract and speaking fees and who paid them.
Kendi was invited to participate in a question and answer session that lasted a little more than an hour. Kendi is a professor at Boston University where he heads the “Center for Antiracist Research,” but he’s well known as the intellectual leader of the Marxist critical race theory and other ideas that suggest that America is, at its core, a racist country with racist institutions that predate the founding of our country.
Researching the professor’s activities a couple of years ago, The College Fix found that Kendi had collected more than $300,000 for his appearances at colleges and public schools across the country. About a year ago, the Daily Wire reported that Kendi was taking in $500 a minute for a speech at the University of Virginia.
Under Idaho law, a government agency is supposed to respond to a public records request within three days, but agencies can take more time.The statute says, “If it is determined by employees of the public agency that a longer period of time is needed to locate or retrieve the public records, the public agency shall so notify in writing the person requesting to examine or copy the records and shall provide the public records to the person no later than ten (10) working days following the person’s request.”
The 10-day extension is supposed to be used for documents that are hard (or harder than usual) to recover. An example might be an email, memo, or study that was done some time in the past and might be in a vault or archive. When I was the public records custodian at the state Department of Agriculture, I tried to take care to respond to records requests right away. If a document was readily available, I didn’t wait three days to get the documents to the requester. The records would be on their way in less than three hours. But there were always forces within the agency who wanted to use the full 10 days in order to avoid accountability, and we still encounter state agencies that play the same wait-until-the-very-last-minute-to-release-the-public-record game.
The documents we’re after come from an event that took place this week. The names of the people involved in the event as well as the people who signed the contract and arranged for Kendi’s appearance are all known to the leadership team at BSU. This is not rocket science. This is not hard work. It’s no mystery who has the contract and where it can be found.
It’s obvious that BSU is just using the extension to get its story together and begin doing damage control. They’ll spend the time between now and the release of the documents to manage the fallout from lawmakers’ concerns about Kendi’s appearance.
Boise State University will no doubt deflect complaints about the costs. We expect the school will, eventually, note that the event wasn’t paid for with taxpayer dollars. But it was likely bankrolled with student fees, which are still public dollars, and every student at Boise State that unwittingly chipped in to pay for Kendi is bound to be upset. The decision to bring Kendi to Idaho comes just as legislative budget writers are to consider proposals to increase college and university support for BSU, the University of Idaho, and Idaho State University, which have a track record of social justice engineering.
What matters right now is that BSU brought a well-known racist activist to town, at some unknown cost to the public, and the school is slow-rolling the release of pertinent information about the event and its costs.