CRT Bill vote protest

LEFT: Student protesters fill the gallery during debate in the Senate chambers of the Idaho State Capitol on a bill involving the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” in Idaho Schools, Monday, April 26, 2021. RIGHT: Boise State University President Marlene Tromp

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In March, when Boise State University announced it was suspending dozens of diversity courses after receiving a complaint that a professor shamed a student for being white, state Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, posted on Facebook that the move amounted to an admission of “systemic Social Justice/Critical Race Theory problems on campus and how some students are being targeted,” writes Idaho Press reporter Ryan Suppe.

The complaint — filed by an anonymous, non-student community member — became political fodder for conservative lawmakers and the Idaho Freedom Foundation in a campaign to eliminate funding for public schools. Nate advocated $18 million be stripped from BSU’s budget — the Idaho Legislature settled on a $1.5 million decrease.

But the complaint was unfounded, according to an independent investigation by Boise law firm Hawley Troxell, the results of which were released Monday.

“No students who participated in the investigation reported that they were ever forced to apologize for the color of their skin,” the report said. “Nor did any student report being personally singled out for their skin color or being subjected to taunts, name-calling, or other degrading behavior from an instructor or other students based on their skin color, beliefs or ideas.”

Further, the investigators suggested, after interviewing 30 students, the complainant and administrators, there was no evidence prohibitions of HB 377, an anti-indoctrination bill passed by the Legislature after the investigation commenced, would have been violated had they existed at the time.

In a Tuesday email to the Idaho Press, Nate — one of dozens of Republican lawmakers who supported higher education budget cuts — cast doubt on the investigation, suggesting it lacked independence, was incomplete and its methods were biased. In an online statement, posted Tuesday, the Idaho Freedom Foundation made similar claims. Both Nate and the libertarian think tank doubled-down on charges of indoctrination.

“BSU still has a blind spot with regard to (critical race theory) on campus,” Nate said in the email. “It is a systemic problem, baked into the curriculum and campus culture.”

On Wednesday, BSU President Marlene Tromp told the Idaho Press in a video call she’s “very proud” of the wrongly accused faculty member for the way they handled the situation, and “grateful we don’t see evidence of indoctrination.”

You can read Suppe's full story here at (subscription required), or pick up today's Idaho Press; it's on the front page.

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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