Social Justice Ideology in Idaho Higher Education
By Dr. Scott Yenor & Anna K. Miller
Social justice ideology is turning American higher education into an engine of progressive activism and ideological indoctrination. Its advocates demand conformity to the cult of race, class and gender victimology cloaked in language like “diversity” and “inclusion.” It is bad for free inquiry and for scientific advancement. It cultivates anger and resentment among the supposedly aggrieved while undermining the social harmony and mutual toleration that lead to good citizenship and a prosperous, happy nation.
This destructive and divisive ideology pervades nearly every nook and cranny of higher education: the administration, policies, hiring, general education requirements, academic colleges and departments, and residence life.
Idaho may be a red state but Idaho’s higher education is not immune to the detrimental threat of social justice ideology. In a project co-sponsored by the Idaho Freedom Foundation and the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life, we show how much social justice ideology has made its way into Idaho universities.
The project begins at Boise State University (BSU).
Activists have infiltrated the highest levels of the BSU administration. From these perches, they require students to take social justice courses such as the University Foundations of Ethics and Diversity course, “History of inequality, marginalization.” Students must pay for a minimum of four social justice education courses before completing their sophomore year.
Social justice has seized control of residence hall directors and the broader division of student life causing students to spend more money on indoctrination by simply living and sleeping on campus.
It gets worse. Social justice ideology plays a significant part in at least 14 departments at BSU. Even seemingly professional departments like the College of Engineering and the College of Business and Economics have adopted social justice aspirations. Students who graduate with majors or minors like social work, gender studies, sociology, global studies, history, or criminal justice can be sure their expensive diploma represents their new status as social justice warriors. Regardless of the major students choose, they “cannot avoid exposure to social justice education, though they can avoid American history, government and literature.”
BSU hired administrators and adopted policies to carry out its social justice goals. First, the university hired a Director of Diversity and Inclusion to identify and empower student activists on campus. Following the Big City Coffee scandal, he called for a “revolution” to ensure all campus vendors will contribute to dismantling phantom structures of “white supremacy.” The university is planning to hire a Vice Provost of Equity and Inclusion.
Professors and staff are being molded to fit the universities social justice goals. Implicit bias training—an attempt to prove to everyone that they are a bigot at heart—is a requirement for those serving on search committees. Boise State Uniting for Inclusion and Leadership (BUILD), was established as an independent center this fall to train faculty and staff on “inclusive” practices. Two new hires were made this year who are dedicated to building this mission. Meanwhile, President Tromp furloughed numerous other employees.
As our project illustrates, there appears to be no limiting principle to BSU’s social justice regime. If the university continues on this path, social justice advocacy will permeate every department at the university. Students will be increasingly forced to pay for campus services, general education classes, and major requirements infused with social justice ideology.
Instead of creating a more educated populace, social justice universities are producing a group of degree-holding elitists who blindly believe in a radical Marxist worldview because the system never nurtured their minds enough to foster critical thinking.
This transformative agenda at Idaho universities must be stopped. The report contains a series of recommendations about how the legislature can defend higher education from social justice activism. Chief among them is to adopt a resolution that social justice education does not serve the common good and to restrict funding to public universities dominated by social justice ideology. Alumni, for their part, should stop giving to social justice universities.
This project does not end with BSU. We are investigating all of Idaho’s public universities to determine how much social justice has captured higher education. We look forward to partnering with other states to grow this project. The Idaho legislature and the public must act to protect the achievement of truth, the free exchange of ideas, and the aspiration for assimilating people into the great American melting pot.
Scott Yenor is a Washington Fellow at the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life. Anna K. Miller is an Education Policy Analyst for the Idaho Freedom Foundation.