ProPublica: ‘Boise State has yielded again and again’ to conservative pressures

Boise State University has repeatedly succumbed to conservative political pressures, from canceling a student speech to removing references to “diversity” and “inclusion” from campus planning documents, ProPublica and the Chronicle for Higher Education reported Wednesday.

Titled, “The Other Cancel Culture: How a Public University Is Bowing to a Conservative Crusade,” the in-depth article uses Boise State as the focal point for an in-depth investigation of the national tensions between higher education leaders and red-state policymakers.

ProPublica reporters Daniel Golden and Kirsten Berg note that Boise State receives only 18% of its budget from the state’s general fund, while its private fundraising has increased, and its nationally prominent football program enhances the university’s profile. “But for all its seeming clout and independence, Boise State has yielded again and again.”

Among the examples cited by Golden and Berg:

  • Boise State abruptly canceled an August 2020 convocation speech on “land acknowledgement” that was to be delivered by Melanie Fillmore, a doctoral student in public policy who is part Indigenous. The speech would have occurred within days of a brief, and contentious, special session of the Legislature.
  • Amidst political pressure, Boise State abruptly halted a 2020 search for a vice provost for equity and inclusion, never filling the post.
  • Tromp asked a university planning committee to avoid using “diversity” and “inclusion,” words legislators would look for. Neither word appears in Boise State’s 2022-26 strategic plan.
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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