Documents obtained through discovery in the Big City Coffee lawsuit against Boise State University (BSU) have revealed social justice ideology in the student council, the administration, and various aspects of BSU contracts and business decisions.
Included here are multiple sets of meeting minutes over the course of several days in September 2020. The ASBSU Assembly, Academic Senate, Inclusive Excellence Student Council, and Executive Council meetings are shown below.
From the Inclusive Excellence Student Council (Zoom) (IESC) meeting on 9/22, which briefly addressed the Big City controversy, the list of action items included preparing the statement of the council. The minutes show the council went into a closed executive session:
“Draft IESC’s statement on Big City Coffee and Boise State’s harmful actions
a. The document is in the IESC meeting. For this meeting, if everyone consents, we can come up with an outline of what we want to say, and then throughout the week, Amanda and everyone else who wants to be part of the drafting process can start writing.
b. Alyssa – This portion of the meeting is closed so we can talk freely.
c. Em gives background information on Big City Coffee and Boise State’s harmful actions.
d. Discussion on what examples to provide in the statement and how to best educate and hold people accountable.”
From the ASBSU Assembly Meeting on September 23rd, 2020, a student named Bayley explained his thoughts on the people of Twin Falls:
“a) Bayley – Personally I have had to struggle and now I have been privileged enough to get a great job at St. Lukes. Twin Falls is the center of all of the smaller farming towns. There is ignorance between the social classes that I see in that community. If you do see me overstepping my bounds, please tell me and help me understand.”
Multiple topics are addressed throughout these meetings, some of which Idaho Dispatch is working to acquire additional information on. (Use arrows at the bottom of the document to click through all included minutes.)BSU000647 ASBSU Update 9-28-20 w minutes
The student council spent several meetings discussing Big City Coffee’s support of law enforcement and how they found that to be racist and damaging to “marginalized students.” The council characterized BSU administration allowing Big City on campus as “harmful behavior.” Leslie Webb and other administrators spoke to council members about how the university intended to address the speech of Big City Coffee owner Sarah Fendley by asking her to fund scholarships for “people of color” to compensate for her business’ presence on campus. Francisco Salinas is quoted as saying that pushing back against Big City Coffee’s presence could be,
“…the beginning of a revolution where we say that we have a standard for corporate partnerships that we have.”
Just a couple months later, BSU President Marlene Tromp wrote this letter to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) of the Idaho Legislature explaining how she is making sure there is respect and fairness for all viewpoints on campus.
“I want you to know I heard concerns from the legislature on a variety of issues that have been described as discriminatory, anti-Idaho “social justice” issues and how they impact my institution and its mission. Many of these concerns emerged prior to my presidency. As you can see among the items in the attached, I have inaugurated new programming to instill in our campus culture a sense of respect and fairness for all people and voices.”
The letter also included on page two an entire section labeled “Free Speech.” It explains,
Tromp Letter to JFAC
“Boise State supports and never infringes upon First Amendment Rights. Part of what helps people learn is rich dialogue. Universities are places where complex issues can be discussed and where differing viewpoints are welcome. Bringing people together with differing viewpoints means there will be disagreement. Such disagreement can even be uncomfortable at times, but can be a critical part of learning when it happens respectfully. Through conversation, we aim to facilitate peaceful and free expression that results in deeper learning and growth for all.
Critical to us are the words of Justice Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice Rehnquist, and others in a unanimous Supreme Court ruling regarding the special value in freedom of speech on state university campuses. They remarked that “in the public university setting. . . the State undertakes to stimulate the whole universe of speech and ideas.” We respect the need for “this whole universe of speech and ideas” to be available on our campus. We do not have “Free Speech Zones.” Our whole campus is a space for free speech.”
The BSU student government was recently reorganized. It had consisted of the Assembly, Academic Senate, IESC, and Executive Council. After the reorganization, it became the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches. The IESC was not eliminated, it was dispersed and distributed into the three new branches.
As mentioned in the first article in this series, the IESC had discussed going through and changing all pronouns in the BSU constitution to “they/them.”
Feature photo courtesy of supertailgate.com
Tags: Amanda Hawks, Anna K. Miller, ASBSU, Associated Students of Boise State University, Boise State University, BSU, Chayon Sheen, Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Scott Yenor, Em McNay, Francisco Salinas, Hailey Opperman, IESC, Kenneth Huston, Leslie Webb, marginalized students, Marlene Tromp, non-binary, privilege, Pronouns, Ryann Banks, Sarah Smith, Social Justice Ideology