Idaho Democrats Respond to Republican Letter to Boise State President Tromp 

click to enlarge KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes
Democrats in the Idaho House and Senate have drafted a response to a memo sent to Boise State University President Marlene Tromp criticizing diversity and inclusion efforts at Idaho's largest public university.

"Exclusion won't make college more affordable, but it will destabilize our economy and threaten our quality of life," wrote 14 democratic members of the Idaho House and seven members democratic members of the Idaho Senate.

On July 11, news broke that Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt had sent a letter to Tromp calling on her to end diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives, including multicultural student events like the Pow Wow, Rainbow Graduation, Black Graduation and Project Dream; graduate fellowships for underrepresented minority students; a gender-based violence community-coordinated response team; a proposal to create protocols for LGBTQ-based sexual misconduct prevention and response; "valuable time" spent on "assessing the proper use of names and pronouns;" a program that identifies implicit bias in hiring; and a graduate school prep course for underrepresented students.

click to enlarge Boise State University President Marlene Tromp - BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY
  • Boise State University
  • Boise State University President Marlene Tromp
That letter, which was signed by 28 Republicans, also targeted encouraging DACA students to apply for Idaho Opportunity Scholarships and eight other accommodation programs that the signees say will drive up costs for Idaho students, with rationales that "this drive to create a diversified and inclusive culture becomes divisive and exclusionary because it separates and segregates students," and "not one of these initiatives will help our Idaho students achieve their dreams of obtaining a degree and a career without an undue debt burden."

The letters are the latest in a tit-for-tat that started in June, when then-Boise State Interim President Martin Schimpf released a newsletter in which he wrote that "it is clear to me that students, faculty, and staff understand the importance of Boise State being a leader on inclusive excellence—not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is vital to maintaining our ability to serve our students in the future."

In their own memo, the Idaho democrats wrote that the stepping stones to college participation put in place by the university help create equality of access outlined in the university's mission.

"Colleges like Boise State University help our citizens (present and future) achieve security for their families by ensuring equal access to world-class educational opportunities and by reducing obstacles for underserved communities," they wrote. 

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