Tromp on campus culture: ‘There remains more work to be done’

This week, Marlene Tromp refuted claims about social justice controversies at Boise State University — and pledged to do more to nurture free expression on campus.

“I have inaugurated new programming to instill in our campus culture a sense of respect and fairness for all people and voices,” the Boise State president said Tuesday, in a letter to Sen. Steve Bair and Rep. Rick Youngblood, co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. “I aim to ensure that, when we fall short in achieving this ideal, we address it earnestly and in good faith. I recognize there remains more work to be done.”

“We do not have ‘Free Speech Zones,'” Boise State University President Marlene Tromp wrote Tuesday. “Our whole campus is a space for free speech.”

Tromp sent the seven-page response 11 days after a heated presentation before JFAC. Two conservative Republicans, Reps. Ron Nate of Rexburg and Priscilla Giddings of White Bird, grilled Tromp about social-justice issues on campus.

As she did during the presentation, Tromp Tuesday pushed back against the lawmakers’ assertions:

  • Tromp said Boise State did not force a Boise coffee shop off campus because of its owner’s support of law enforcement.
  • She said Boise State renewed its contract with the Boise Police Department in 2020.
  • While Boise State “believes each student deserves access to support to be successful,” Tromp said the university does not fund local or national Black Lives Matter groups.
  • Tromp said the Tunnel of Oppression — an interactive program on bias and racism — is not a graduation requirement, and is not funded with state dollars.

Tromp also provided some details on a new program, which she mentioned briefly during her recent “Education Week” appearances at the Statehouse. Boise State will launch a new center — tentatively dubbed “The Center for American Values: Advancing the American Experiment.” She said the center “will bring together voices from both the right and the left and model respectful dialogue and inquiry.”

The center has received “generous support” from an Idaho philanthropist, Tromp said. She did not identify the donor.


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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