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Idaho Ed News fails again, misses key questions about universities ignoring cuts to social justice spending

Idaho Ed News fails again, misses key questions about universities ignoring cuts to social justice spending

Emri Moore
August 27, 2021
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August 27, 2021

True to form, Idaho Ed News left out important details in its story about Boise State University President Marlene Tromp’s presentation that welcomed staff and students for the fall 2021 semester. 

Writer and blogger Kevin Richert wrote that Tromp sidestepped talking about politics and focused on what Boise State University (BSU) has achieved during the pandemic. But where politics were involved, Richert said, Tromp introduced five Idaho legislators in attendance, including Sen. Carl Crabtree, R-Grangeville. 

Richert wrote, “Crabtree, a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, played a pivotal role in passing a higher education budget that cut $1.5 million from Boise State, and $500,000 apiece from the University of Idaho and Idaho State University.”

That’s only part of the story. There’s no denying that the Legislature voted to cut $2.5 million from the social justice programs at BSU, Idaho State University, and University of Idaho. But Richert deceived his readers because he failed to mention that the universities decided to ignore the cuts and leave those social justice programs intact. He also left out that the schools received nearly $33 million from COVID relief funds. 

Richert wrote, “Crabtree said the cuts were designed to ‘send a message’ about left-leaning social justice programs; they angered higher education advocates but also disappointed hardline conservatives seeking deeper cuts.”

Richert’s shoddy reporting paints Crabtree as something of an energized crusader in the war over the social justice takeover on campus. Such a portrayal is untrue. Crabtree is a reluctant cutter. Consider his first bill, which diverted a mere $409,000 in social justice spending from the higher education budget at BSU to Lewis-Clark State College. Redirected dollars aside, Crabtree’s spending plan also allowed the universities to continue spending tens of millions on social justice programs and initiatives. 

Crabtree’s bill was an inadequate attempt to corral social justice spending on campuses. A conservative warrior would have recognized that. Crabtree didn’t, House members did. After the Senate passed Crabtree’s inadequate bill, the House killed the measure on a 57-13 vote. That vote forced Crabtree and his fellow budget committee members to cut deeper into the higher education budget. Eventually, committee members settled on the $2.5 million reduction that is being side-stepped by the universities 

A decent reporter might ask Crabtree if he’s satisfied with the universities ignoring the Legislature’s decision to cut social justice programs. One might ask Crabtree what he plans to do next legislative session to address the schools’ recalcitrance and open defiance of lawmakers. Instead, Richert paints a picture intended to make it look as if the issue is all in the past, with Tromp and Crabtree, former adversaries, now content to appear together at her school’s opening festivities. But it’s not even close to the truth.

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