BOISE, Idaho — Freshman Rep. Tammy Nichols gave an interview to Breitbart News over the weekend that led to a story saying Idaho legislators are considering defunding Boise State University because new President Marlene Tromp is trying to implement a “leftist agenda.”
“I don’t think I used the term ‘leftist agenda,’” Nichols told the Idaho Press on Monday. “But mine was that, yeah, there needs to be more accountability. I believe there needs to be more transparency, and if we’re not happy with what’s transpiring then maybe we shouldn’t be funding it.”
“We put a lot of money from our state that the taxpayers are paying for to help fund these universities, and basically we’re paying for our kids to be indoctrinated,” Nichols, R-Middleton, told Breitbart host Matthew Boyle; Breitbart News is a far-right syndicated news, opinion and commentary website.
The Breitbart article suggested that an email newsletter about diversity programs to which 28 Idaho GOP state representatives objected was written by Tromp, and that it detailed the new president’s plans for new programs at BSU. Actually, the June newsletter was written by interim President Martin Schimpf, who preceded Tromp, and highlighted existing programs.
“We see what’s coming out of our universities on a daily basis, they just have the climate rallies and other protests and things that are transpiring throughout the nation,” Nichols said on the program. “It’s a huge concern.”
Tromp, in response to several contacts about the Breitbart article, sent out a statement Monday that said in part, “I and others on my staff have actively reached out to and met with leaders from across the state of Idaho to learn their thoughts on these and other issues pertaining to higher education, and we will continue to do so.
“This university has been led by a succession of prestigious leaders, among them, a longtime Republican politician, a storied administrator, and an interim president who was a teacher and administrator in Idaho for over 30 years,” Tromp wrote. “Every student-support and faculty-training program at Boise State existed before I arrived in July — some of them for decades. My predecessors, who developed these programs, were embedded in the community and striving to serve the state.
“My goal is to do the same: To serve the people and the state of Idaho by supporting our students and producing excellent graduates who go on to positively impact the state. And we have been incredibly successful: We have served more and more students, improved their rate of graduation significantly — and done so with the most economically efficient degree delivery in the state.”
She also noted, “Much of what you may have heard or read is based on misperceptions about programming at Boise State and other Idaho public universities. For example, Boise State does not hold ‘segregated graduations,’ nor do we offer ‘separate scholarships for illegals’ — the state Legislature sets the guidelines for state scholarships.”
Nichols made both those claims in her Breitbart interview.
House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, who was among the 28 state representatives who signed the initial letter, said, “I can tell you this: I’ve met with Marlene a couple of times. I like her a lot — she’s cool.”
As far as the Legislature defunding BSU, he said, “I don’t see that happening.”
“I think there will be discussions,” Moyle said, adding that he’s heard from some lawmakers who want to “whack” Idaho’s higher education budget. He said he’s concerned about student tuition and fee increases.
“Anybody at any time can try to cut the funding, but I don’t see the funding being cut,” Moyle said. “I just see there being a lot more questions.”
Nichols said she traveled a lot over the summer and hasn’t yet had time to meet with Tromp.
“I’m sure she’s a very competent person, and I think it would be great for many of us to sit down with her and to discuss this further,” Nichols said. “I’m all for looking at all the sides of the issue. I am not someone that’s mind cannot be changed on anything.”
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