Complaining of “political correctness running amok,” a Middleton legislator hinted at defunding Boise State University during an interview with a right-wing news site.
It’s the latest salvo in a battle over diversity and inclusion programs at the state’s largest university — a debate that has pitted a cadre of conservative legislators against newly hired Boise State President Marlene Tromp.
“I really believe that we need to start taking the money away when we have this sort of stuff transpiring in our education system — if we don’t like what’s going on, then maybe we shouldn’t be funding it,” Rep. Tammy Nichols said in a Saturday interview with Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle.
In July, Nichols was among 28 House Republicans who co-signed a letter to Tromp, urging the new president to disavow a long list of programs designed to support students of color and LGBTQ students.
But in the weekend interview, Nichols added some new concerns — such as Boise State’s plans to include permanent prayer space in a remodeled student union building.
“We have these kids that we’re paying to be educating and they’re being indoctrinated,” Nichols told Breitbart, “and I think it’s going to be taking away the funding in order to change the dynamics of what’s happening in our education system.”
In a statement to Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press, Tromp pushed back against some of Nichols’ claims — namely, that Boise State has set up separate and “segregated” graduation ceremonies, or separate state scholarships for undocumented students.
“Every student-support and faculty-training program at Boise State existed before I arrived in July — some of them for decades,” Tromp wrote in a statement to Russell. “My predecessors, who developed these programs, were embedded in the community and striving to serve the state.
“My goal is to do the same: To serve the people and the state of Idaho by supporting our students and producing excellent graduates who go on to positively impact the state.”
One key House Republican downplayed the threat of defunding Boise State.
“Anybody at any time can try to cut the funding, but I don’t see the funding being cut,” Majority Leader Mike Moyle told Russell. Moyle, R-Star, was one of the 28 lawmakers who signed the July 9 letter to Tromp.
Nichols is a first-term legislator. She is not a member of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, the House-Senate panel that writes budget bills for universities and other state agencies. Nor is she a member of the House Education Committee, which has jurisdiction over K-12 and higher education policies.