You can add one more packet of interesting documents to the Gardner Company's grand plans for the City Centre Plaza.
Boise Weekly readers already know that the volume of contracts surrounding Boise's newest high-profile development is as tall as the hole will be deep when Gardner begins digging a new subterranean transit center, simultaneously building a five-story convention facility to be operated by the Greater Boise Auditorium District and a nine-story office building that will become the new headquarters of Clearwater Analytics.
Additionally, the City of Boise has agreed to defer more than $500,000 in fees for building permits and development impacts (police and fire).
And now the Boise Guardian is reporting that the Idaho State Board of Education is about to take up a proposal that would allow Boise State University to move some of its Computer Science Department, including faculty, staff and instructional areas, to the new City Centre Plaza. According to the documents, the new Boise State build-out could cost at least $15 million.
The State Board of Ed will be asked to consider a 20-year lease between Gardner and Boise State.
"This particular location would serve to create collaborative partnerships with leading industries, allow local businesses and industry greater access to our programs, and provide our students with the opportunity to interact with local partners by working on projects of mutual interest," the documents read.
The agreement would see Gardner lease 53,549 square feet to Boise State in a one-year lease with 19 one-year renewal options.
For now, Boise State is asking the State Board to approve the lease deal and "over the next two years, the University will work closely with the developer and their lender as the project and financing progresses, monitor how the financing structure will impact purchase option pricing, and monitor market conditions and University priorities," according to the documents.
The State Board is asking Boise State officials to be prepared to discuss its plans for the use of space vacated on its main campus when, and if, the Computer Sciences Department is moved over to the new City Centre Plaza.
Dr. Caroline Heldman, who Boise Weekly readers first met in a February 2013 Citizen profile, unleashed a stunning presentation on sexual assaults on American campuses during a Thursday session of the Andrus Center for Public Policy's Politics for Lunch series. Heldman's address packed the room at Boise State's BoDo offices in Downtwon Boise, in what the Andrus Center Director Dr. David Adler called a record-setting audience.
Heldman asked attendees to raise their hands if they knew of someone who had been the victim of sexual assault.
"Look around; with very few exceptions, everyone's hand is up," she said.
Heldman began her presentation by pushing back against what she called the "watered-down term known as non-consensual sexual contact."
"I'm a proponent of calling what it is," said Heldman. "And what it is, is rape."
Simply put, Heldman said the nation faces an ongoing epidemic of rape on more than 5,000 college campuses. She said 1 in 5 college women face assault or rape—much higher than the overall average.
"Saying it another way, quite bluntly: If you're a woman going to college, you're more likely to be raped than not going to college," she said, stunning the room of Boise State students, faculty and staff along with the general public.
And then Heldman unleashed her most sobering statement of the afternoon:
"By these standards, I estimate that Boise State had approximately 220 sexual attacks. Yet only four were reported in 2010, six in 2011 and six in 2012," said Heldman to the room, which instantly began a combination of stunned silence and shaking heads. "You have a vast underreporting problem."
Heldman said as many as 55 universities were currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged underreporting and/or an alleged lack of protections for its students.
"But here's the good news. At least those schools will be doing something about it. You, at least, know that your child is going to a school that has a public discussion on this," she added.
In a timely follow-up, Adler announced that the Andrus Center would be hosting its annual conference, with the theme of "Women in Leadership" on the campus of Boise State Sept. 10-12.
Some 250 miles above the Earth floats the International Space Station, but on May 6, the space station touched down, not physically, but digitally to Boise State University, where a group of students, educators and select guests eagerly awaited a close encounter.
Set up in Boise State’s Student Union Building, the Space Symposium created a live-link connection with two ISS astronauts, Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio.
A group of students known as the Space Broncos have been planning this event since late January 2014. Students in the Space Broncos come from different colleges and disciplines across campus. John Garretson, who joined at the beginning of the 2013 fall semester, is a senior public relations and communication major who discovered the opportunity to join Space Broncos through an e-mail from his adviser.
“I had to take it right on the spot, it was too cool of an opportunity to pass up,” Garretson said.
Leigh Ann Dufurrena, digital and social media communications specialist, took the position of co-professor of record for the Space Broncos and headed the Space Symposium event.
“The culmination of all the projects we've been working on and all of the field trips and community outreach is this event,” Dufurrena said.
The idea originally came from NASA, which approached the Space Broncos about the downlink, since then the students have been working with Swanson on the project. Swanson received the title of Professor of Practice in February 2014.
“It’s [Professor of Practice] a new program with community and business leaders to help in creative learning across all the colleges,” Dufurrena said.
The opportunity to have what is, more or less, a Skype session with the ISS hasn’t been offered to many other universities.
“There’s been a couple of other universities that have done these, but it’s a really rare opportunity for any university to get to have a downlink with the space station and especially a two-way downlink like we are doing today,” Dufurrena said.
Steve Bull, technical services manager at Boise State, hasn’t done anything quite as complicated as this before, but kept it in context.
“To all intents and purposes it’s a glorified phone call,” Bull said.
Mark Rudin, vice president for research and economic development, worked on getting Boise State connected with the ISS.
“We have a lot of research going on at Boise State in NASA-related areas and funded by NASA,” Rudin said. “The neatest thing is that our students benefit tremendously from this partnership, relationship, with NASA.”
The event included remarks from Boise State President Bob Kustra:
“This is quite a historic moment for Boise State. I really do think this takes our partnership with NASA to the highest level ever.”
The three-hour event included presentations from several Boise State professors, Swanson’s parents Stanley and June, and former astronaut Barbara Morgan. But of course, the highlight of the event was when the two astronauts appeared on screen, floating in mid-air.
“Boise State we have you loud and clear,” Swanson said, followed by an abundance of applause.
For many at the event, this was the opportunity of a lifetime.
“This is something I’ve never been a part of,” Garretson said. “Seeing live interaction with two individuals in an International Space Station is awesome, and that’s just an understatement.”
For the past 15 years, Boise State has been hosting an annual Canada Week. This year brings in the beginning of what will become an annual Mexico Week. Associate Professor Mac Test, who in the past put together the Latin American Arts Festival of 2011 and 2012, has been the chief organizer behind Mexico Week, which begins Monday, April 7, and runs through Saturday, April 12.
“Now we have concentrated on Mexico and putting together an entire week that includes not only art and culture, but also politics, history and sociology,” Test told Boise Weekly.
A year in the works, Test has been working with the Mexican Consulate of Boise to bring together a slew of artists, government officials, and business workers to fill the program of Mexico Week. A trade panel hosted by the Idaho Department of Agriculture will be presented as part of the events.
“Most people probably don’t know, but Idaho has had a representative down in Mexico, for business and trade, for 20 years now,” Test said. “So we’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of that relationship between Idaho and Mexico.”
Test pointed to the fact that even though Idaho shares a border with Canada, people of Mexican descent make up the majority of Idaho's minority population—representing 10 percent of the Gem State. Mexico has long since played a role in Idaho history, since the late 1800s, when what was called Spanish Town formed in what is now the downtown Boise area.
“They called it Spanish Town, but it was actually Mexicans that were here working in the mining industry,” Test said.
Though initiated mainly by Boise State, Mexico Week events are not solely aimed at students, but rather to the entire Treasure Valley. The events will take place not only at Boise State locations, but also at different locations throughout the community, such as The Cabin, The Arcade, and Washington Group Plaza.
“It’s really not just a Boise State event. It really is reaching out to the community,” Test said. “So the targeted audience isn’t really targeted, it’s everybody.”
Test himself spent 13 years living in central Mexico and, fluent in Spanish, currently teaches translation courses at Boise State.
“The best ambassador for any country is its culture,” Test said.
Grabriela Brizio, officer of cultural education and commercial promotion at the Mexican Consulate, plans cultural events for the community. Brizio has only been working at the Consulate for six months, but feels that with the growing population of Mexicans in Idaho, there will be a great turnout for this event. Brizio worked with Test to develop promotional posters of the event and bring in artists.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Brizio said. “As long as we can promote Mexican artists or talk about Mexican history, that is great.”
Cassia County Sheriff Jay Heward is offering enhanced concealed-carry permit training for free, the Times-News reports. The course normally costs $150, but Heward told the press his office will offer three such courses for free, capped at 18-20 participants, in 2014.
"It's a lot of fun, and it helps a lot of first-timers get familiarized with their weapon," he said.
Trainees are required to fire 98 rounds under the supervision of a law enforcement official, as well as extend their knowledge of their Second Amendment rights beyond what is required in a basic concealed-carry class. The permits allows holders to concealed carry in five other states: Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.
Enhanced concealed-carry permits are required for carriers of concealed weapons on Idaho's public college and university campuses. In March, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed into law the so-called guns-on-campus bill, which allows enhanced conceal-carry permit holders and retired law enforcement to bring concealed weapons onto campuses. The controversial law sailed through the state Legislature but not without drawing hours of testimony for and against the law, and prompting the universal opprobrium of college and university presidents, their legal counsel, and campus police and security services.