N. Idaho human rights groups: An open letter to BSU President Tromp

Special to the Reader

Dear President Tromp:

As non-governmental nonprofit organizations that have worked for decades in Idaho promoting human and civil rights while at the same time joining other Idahoans and political leaders to successfully confront the serious threats by the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations when they targeted members of Idaho’s minority communities, we have learned a number of important lessons. 

The following are some of those lessons learned:

1. It was essential not to remain silent when messages and acts of hate arose in our state and also to become allies of those who became victims of that hate.

2. Our successes in confronting these dangers were significantly aided by the support from political leaders of both major political parties, the faith community, educational institutions and the business community, to name a few.

3. We have worked with K-12 schools and higher education to advance curricula, diversity programs and events to create a more welcoming and safe environment for each student. 

4. We have spent years traveling and communicating with communities and the media across America, sharing the true values of Idahoans rather than the erroneous image portrayed by the actions and crimes of the neo-Nazis.

5. Numerous local and Idaho state government entities, chambers of commerce, business sponsored groups such as Jobs Plus in Kootenai County and educational leaders have worked diligently for years to recruit corporations as well as college administrators, faculty and students with diverse backgrounds to Idaho. 

6. Many of us who are or have been educators have decades of experience and research as to the extraordinary value that the implementation of cultural diversity curricula, programs and events enhance learning for our students as they prepare to enter an ever-growing diverse world.

7. And most importantly, we are committed to a future that finds ways to end the discrimination, bigotry and stereotyping that has often marginalized the work and cultural values of minority communities in our country. To correct these injustices, the answer partially lies in the willingness of Idaho’s colleges and universities to create greater diversity in curricula, programs and events for students from Idaho’s dominant culture so that they have the opportunity to experience the richness found in other cultures. If we are going to create a world of understanding and appreciation based on social justice, we cannot retreat into the ways of thinking and doing from the past.

We were highly concerned and deeply troubled when we learned of the letter to your office from 28 Idaho state legislators objecting to the outstanding framework that Boise State University has developed and embraced to make your campus a safe, accepting, friendly and inclusive environment. To do otherwise, would result in a major setback for a campus that cherishes social justice for all its students, employees and visitors.

If all Idaho institutions of higher learning were to disband their present commitment to these educational principles and mission, it will have serious consequences far into Idaho’s future creating a major setback on (1) our long struggle to correct the unfair image we suffered when the Aryan Nations relocated to Idaho in 1973, (2) a message would go out to potential out of state students that Idaho is not a warm and welcoming place for minority students, (3) Idaho leaders working to recruit corporations to Idaho with a diverse workforce would find their task much more difficult and in some cases impossible, and (4) instate students would lose that valuable opportunity to experience a more diverse learning environment.

Dr. Tromp, we stand in unity and support with Boise State University’s outstanding mission that provides a world-class education for all its students.


Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations
Christie Wood, president

Bonner County Human Rights Task Force
Brenda Hammond, president

Human Rights Education Institute
JoAnn Harvey, president

Boundary County Human Rights Task Force
Craig Kelson, president


Idaho State Board of Education

Dr. C. Scott Green, president, University of Idaho

Dr. Kevin Satterlee, president, Idaho State University

Dr. Cynthia Pemberton, president, Lewis-Clark State College

Dr. Richard MacLennan, president, North Idaho College

Dr. Bert Glandon, president, College of Western Idaho

Dr. Jeff Fox, president, College of Southern Idaho

Dr. Rick Aman, president, College of Eastern Idaho

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