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Boise State Finds No Evidence White Student Was Harassed

May 25, 2021

An independent investigation found no evidence that a student at Boise State University was harassed and made to apologize for being white, according to a report released Monday. An allegation that such an incident had occurred prompted the university to temporarily shut down all sections of a required course on ethics and diversity in March. According to the report, completed by a local legal firm, an unnamed “community leader” who is not a student reported having seen video footage of a student in a class setting being harassed and taunted for being white. But after talking to the original complainant, 30 students, faculty members and other employees, the investigator could not substantiate the complainant’s account. The complainant said that Boise State was "indoctrinating" students, according to the report, but he provided no information about who had the alleged video.

“No students reported being forced to apologize for the color of their skin. Nor did any student report being personally singled out based on skin color or being subjected to taunts, name-calling, or other degrading behavior from an instructor or other students based on skin color, beliefs, or ideas,” the report says. “Throughout the course of our investigation, we did not uncover any evidence of conduct on the part of a BSU instructor that would, in our opinion, constitute a violation of BSU’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy or that would otherwise constitute mistreatment of a student.” The report says that shutting down the course temporarily was warranted, however, given the severity of the allegation.

Marlene Tromp, Boise State’s president, in an open letter Monday apologized for the “lack of information” about the investigation while it was ongoing, which she said protected the integrity of the process. The original complaints about the course “came forward in a time of pitched national and political tension regarding diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and the role of higher education,” she said. “We are pleased to know that there were no policy violations, and we recognize that, in the new climate facing our nation today, we must ensure that we are responsive and thoughtful moving forward and that our students understand, with clarity, that we teach them how to think, not what to think.”

Republican state lawmakers have repeatedly criticized the course in question, accusing it of promoting a social justice agenda.


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Colleen Flaherty

Colleen Flaherty, Reporter, covers faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed. Prior to joining the publication in 2012, Colleen was military editor at the Killeen Daily Herald, outside Fort Hood, Texas. Before that, she covered government and land use issues for the Greenwich Time and Hersam Acorn Newspapers in her home state of Connecticut. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 2005 with a degree in English literature, Colleen taught English and English as a second language in public schools in the Bronx, N.Y. She earned her M.S.Ed. from City University of New York Lehman College in 2008 as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. 

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