BOISE, Idaho—Students at Boise State University have claimed victory in their battle for intellectual diversity in the campus speaker program.
Conservative students Jonathan Sawmiller, a Boise State student government senator and member of the Conservative Student Coalition (CSC), and Brandon Stoker, a member of the CSC, launched a campaign urging fellow students to take action against university bias in spending and the selection of speakers.
The students contacted state representatives and local media outlets to bring attention to their efforts for balanced speaker selections on campus. Idaho state senators questioned Boise State University President Bob Kustra about the allegations against the speaker program during his annual hearing before the committee.
At the hearing of the Idaho State Senate Education Committee on Thursday, February 15, President Kustra admitted the school’s invited speakers “tilt to the left,” according to the Idaho Statesman.
“What we’re talking about here is public dollars spent on public speakers,” said State Senator Monty Pearce at the senate hearing, as reported in the Idaho Statesman. “Boise State is a public funded university where I want ideas to float freely.”
“Thanks to the interest and actions of the state senators, Boise State can be a place of true learning and debate, rather than a hotbed for leftist indoctrination,” said Sawmiller.
After the hearing, Sawmiller received an offer of $1,000 from a community member who heard about the students’ efforts from community conservative activist Brandi Swindell and wanted to support conservative students on campus.
“We have received a lot of support and feedback from the local community. It’s really been an encouraging experience,” said Sawmiller.
According to Sawmiller, President Kustra has since contacted several students who were involved in the speaker debate and scheduled a March meeting with them to discuss the speaker program.
“This proves that young people can make a difference in the way their universities are run,” Sawmiller said.
“These conservative students stood up against the leftist abuses on campus and won a major victory for intellectual diversity on campus,” said Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute.
“I am very proud of their actions and certain their dedication will improve the discourse on campus,” Blackwell said.
According to the CSC, which was started in 2006 with the help of The Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program, the university spent nearly $300,000 during the past five years to bring 18 liberal speakers to campus, including Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem, and Ralph Nader. But the university did not pay for any of the three conservative speakers who came to campus during that same time.
The students plan to host more conservative activities on campus. The CSC members also plan to reach out to the Boise State community as they try to bring more conservative speakers to the college.
Michelle Miller works with the Leadership Institute.