Boise State cancels 50-plus diversity classes after claims student was ‘degraded’ for beliefs

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Posted at 4:24 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 18:24:50-04

This article was written by Ian Stevenson and Nicole Foy of the Idaho Statesman.

Boise State University announced Tuesday it was canceling several core curriculum classes after allegations that at least one student was “degraded” for their beliefs in class.

The cancellation affects roughly 1,300 students in 52 sections of UF 200: Foundations of Ethics and Diversity, according to the university.

“We have been made aware of a series of concerns, culminating in allegations that a student or students have been humiliated and degraded in class on our campus for their beliefs and values,” the university said in a written statement provided to the Idaho Statesman. “Effective immediately, we must suspend UF 200.”

The course is required for graduation and designed to engage students in “discussions of ethics and diversity in contemporary societal issues,” according to Boise State’s website. About 35 faculty members were teaching UF 200 courses during the spring semester, which can examine ethics and diversity issues in topics including the American dream, the refugee crisis, hospitality, hip hop, technology, education, food in the U.S. and literature.

Boise State did not clarify which of the 52 spring semester UF 200 classes spurred the complaint, and whether complaints came from one or multiple students.

In an email sent to Boise State students Tuesday, university President Marlene Tromp and Interim Provost Tony Roark said it was “never acceptable” for a student to feel degraded for their beliefs or values.

“Boise State University is committed to ensuring that each and every one of our students is treated with respect and that all have the right to hold and to voice their own personal and political beliefs,” Tromp and Roark wrote in the email. “Our campus is richer and learning is made more effective because people of all backgrounds and beliefs are invited to meet, exchange ideas and learn together.”

The university will be working with UF 200 students to make sure they can complete the class over the next week, according to the statement. All students in those courses also will be asked to complete midterm evaluations of their respective UF 200 courses. Professional development sessions for faculty on “fostering learning environments characterized by mutual respect” also will be offered at a future date.

Earlier this month, the Idaho Legislature moved more than $400,000 from Boise State’s budget to Lewis-Clark State College, according to Idaho Education News. Lawmakers specifically cited concerns the university was using taxpayer dollars to pursue a social justice agenda. Other lawmakers like Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, and conservative organizations like the Idaho Freedom Foundation have called for even more cuts.

Boise State officials encouraged students to report any complaints or concerns about instructor bias. Students can file an academic grievance that would trigger a review under Boise State Policy 3140, report bias based on a protected class to Institutional Compliance that would trigger an investigation under Boise State’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy or submit a CARE report that would initiate a review of the complaint by the dean of students. Students can report concerns anonymously through Boise State’s Compliance Reporting Hotline.