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Boise State hires law firm to investigate allegation that suspended diversity classes

Boise State University suspends classes after student complaints
Posted at 2:44 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 16:51:02-04

BOISE, Idaho — This article was written by Nicole Foy of the Idaho Statesman.

Boise State University has hired an outside law firm to investigate allegations that led to the sudden suspension of more than 50 diversity classes last week.

Boise State announced March 16 it was suspending some core curriculum classes after allegations that at least one student was “degraded” for their beliefs in class. University spokesperson Mike Sharp told the Idaho Statesman on Friday that the university has hired Boise law firm Hawley-Troxell to lead an investigation into the allegations.

In a series of tweets last week that were shared widely despite being quickly deleted, Boise State assistant professor Kyle Boggs said the allegations referred to a recorded Zoom discussion about white privilege that made a white student “uncomfortable.” Boggs declined to comment.

Boise State also declined to comment on the nature of the allegation.

“The allegation was so serious that even though it wasn’t an official complaint, we are treating it as one,” Sharp said.

University officials do not know which of the more than 52 sections of UF 200: Foundations of Ethics and Diversity sparked the allegation. Last week’s suspension affects roughly 1,300 students, according to the university. All of the classes were suspended so officials — and now Hawley-Troxell — could investigate an “unspecific” allegation of a student, according to the university.

The foundations courses were already being reviewed prior to the most recent incident in a separate investigation, according to the university. The review began in December and was prompted by several concerns about the courses.

Diversity and inclusion efforts at Boise State University have been under fire for years. Just after the university announced it was suspending the diversity classes, the Idaho Senate voted to approve a more than $400,000 cut from Boise State’s budget tied to disagreement over diversity programming. Other lawmakers like Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, and conservative organizations like the Idaho Freedom Foundation have called for even more cuts.

Current UF 200 students received an email Friday informing them that they would be able to complete their courses — which are required to graduate — and their academic progress would not be held up because of this suspension. The email also informed students they would likely be contacted by someone involved in the investigation.

“Please know that the class is not canceled,” university President Marlene Tromp and Interim Provost Tony Roark wrote in the email. “The university has suspended class meetings in order to allow an investigation to be conducted into a serious but nonspecific allegation (nonspecific relative to identifying individuals or course section).”

University officials are still working on the best way for the classwork to resume, Sharp said. Communications between professors and students in the diversity classes were shut down, Sharp said, so as not to compromise “the integrity of the investigation.” Courses will likely be completed through some type of independent study.