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Ehardt believes Boise State should bring students together, not separate them

Twenty-eight lawmakers in Idaho believe that Boise State University’s new president should look at different paths when it comes to the school’s efforts in diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives.

A letter sent to Marlene Tromp last week says that the initiatives increases tuition, results in segregation and goes against the “Idaho way.” The letter was written by Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls. Dozens of state representatives signed the letter.

Many of the initiative’s ideas that the letter discusses were from Boise State’s interim president, Martin Schimpf.

Ehardt said the purpose of letter was to start conversations about where the state’s higher education centers are headed. In this case in particular, Boise State, she said the school’s efforts to create more inclusion, diversity and equality are “disconcerting.”

“I spent 15 years at four different fantastic universities, and the successes that we had at those universities were truly based on programs that unified all students and programs that brought students together, not separated them, not segregated them,” Ehardt said. “I don’t like the direction we’re going because we’re going to do the very thing that we’re seeing other campuses across the United States fail (at).”

Ehardt also addressed concerns that these initiatives could make tuition costs go up. She pointed out that Boise State’s undergraduate tuition is expected to increase 4.9% this next year

Ehardt said people ask her all the time how can higher education become more affordable. She said she hears that the cost of school is the reason many drop out.

“At some point, we need to be cognizant of the very student that comes from rural Idaho (who) just wants to be able to get an education, and they need to be able to afford it,” Ehardt said. “There are a lot of things here at play, and those are some of the issues we wanted to address.”

Ehardt will be meeting with Tromp this week.

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