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Did “white privilege” lecture cause the cancellation of BSU’s social justice courses?

Did “white privilege” lecture cause the cancellation of BSU’s social justice courses?

Dustin Hurst
March 17, 2021

On Tuesday, Boise State University suspended all 35 of its University Foundations 200 classes. Administration explained, “a student or students have been humiliated and degraded in class on our campus for their beliefs and values.”  

BSU President Marlene Tromp and Interim Provost Tony Roark told students that classes would be suspended “while the university gathers more information.” Tromp and Roark indicated students will still be required to complete their UF 200 courses once “next steps” are determined. 

UF 200, otherwise known as Foundations in Ethics and Diversity, is among four mandatory general education courses that are infused with social justice, a toxic ideology that has captured many facets of life at Boise State. 

While Tromp and Roark didn’t cite a specific incident that caused the suspension, a BSU employee may have spilled the beans on social media. 

Dr. Kyle Boggs, an assistant professor in BSU’s English Department, tweeted Tuesday that a white privilege lecture may have sparked the school’s actions. 

Wrote Boggs on Twitter: “A student in a university foundations class taped a zoom discussion on white privilege, in which apparently a white student was made to feel uncomfortable, and sent the video to ID state legislature, who are ‘enraged.’ BSU suspended all UF 200 classes mid semester as a result.” (See Boggs' tweet below this story.)

Boggs has since deleted the tweet without explanation. IFF emailed Boggs several questions about his now-erased tweet, but he has not responded. 

IFF contacted several legislators in search of the video Boggs mentioned, but none have seen or received a video. 

Mike Sharp, BSU’s director of media relations, says the school has not seen a video if one exists. Sharp, in a phone call with IFF, reaffirmed that the suspension of UF 200 classes came after several complaints about the courses, not one specific incident. 

The course suspension comes just hours before the Idaho Senate’s vote on Boise State’s budget. Budget writers on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee propose to cut a mere $400,000 from BSU’s budget in order to send BSU a message about the school’s focus on social justice programming. The Idaho Senate will likely vote on the higher education budget Wednesday. 

Two conservative lawmakers — Rep. Ron Nate of Rexburg and Rep. Priscilla Giddings of White Bird — have criticized the miniscule budget reduction for BSU. “There’s no message being sent here,” Nate warned in an Idaho Freedom Foundation video posted Monday. Nate and Giddings have suggested cutting BSU’s budget by between $2.5 million and $20 million to send an effective message to the school. 

Idaho Freedom Foundation Legislative Affairs Director Fred Birnbaum has also criticized the small proposed cut. In an Idaho Spending Index analysis of the higher education budget, Birnbaum put the reduction into perspective. “When you consider that BSU’s total operating budget, including non-appropriated funds that come directly from the federal government, is over $600 million, a cut of less than a half-million dollars is hardly a dent,” Birnbaum wrote in his analysis

If the higher education budget, which sets spending plans for BSU along with Idaho State University, the University of Idaho, and Lewis-Clark State College, clears the Senate floor Wednesday, the House of Representatives could take up the proposal as early as Friday. 

The Idaho Freedom Foundation has requested copies of the student’s UF 200 video recording, and this story will be updated as we receive more information.

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