Boise State GOP, Democratic groups to co-sponsor panel on diversity programs

Boise State University’s Republican and Democratic student groups are co-hosting a bipartisan discussion on a polarizing issue: campus diversity and inclusion programs.

The panel discussion, “The Future of American Higher Education,” will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22, at the Simplot Ballroom of Boise State’s Student Union Building.

Boise State College Republicans and Boise State Young Democrats are co-sponsoring the event, billed as a “civil discussion on the ideas of diversity and inclusion within our state education systems.”

Speakers include Reps. Barbara Ehardt and Bryan Zollinger, both R-Idaho Falls; Sen. Assistant Minority Leader Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise; and House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise.

All four lawmakers have been involved — to at least some degree — in the debate over Boise State diversity and inclusion programs.

In July, Ehardt wrote a letter to new Boise State President Marlene Tromp, urging her to disavow a host of programs established before her arrival at the university. Ehardt said the programs drive up university costs and divide students. Zollinger was among 27 other House Republicans to sign the letter.

All 21 legislative Democrats co-signed a response to Ehardt’s letter, urging Tromp to stay the course and create a welcoming environment for students from all backgrounds. Erpelding also wrote his own response, saying the Republican-dominated Legislature has short-changed higher education, causing tuition increases.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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