All 21 Democratic members of the Idaho House and Senate have signed onto a new letter today to new BSU President Marlene Tromp, supporting the university's diversity and inclusion efforts — in contrast to the letter sent yesterday from 28 GOP House members objecting to them.

"Idaho's higher education institutions create welcoming environments to serve students from diverse backgrounds who are striving for a better life and more opportunity," the Democratic lawmakers wrote. "This is the 'Idaho way.'"

The lead signer on the Dems' letter was House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise; the GOP letter was from freshman Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, but the signers included House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star.

While the earlier letter blamed diversity and inclusion efforts for driving up tuition, the Dems' letter blamed "the legislature's neglect."

"Because of the legislature's neglect, tuition costs are rising," the new letter says. "Exclusion won't make college more affordable, but it will destabilize our economy and threaten our quality of life. Increasing accessibility and making college more affordable will tear down barriers." 

Like Ehardt's letter, the Dems' letter is copied to the Office of the State Board of Education and all of Idaho's other public college and university presidents.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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