[Vandal] Critical Support For The University of Idaho Is Needed

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Fri Apr 9 18:48:57 PDT 2021

-----Original Message-----
From: President Scott Green (president at uidaho.edu)
To: Fellow Vandals
Sent: Fri, Apr 9, 2021 4:16 pm
Subject: Critical support for higher education is needed

 <!--#yiv6089163930 _filtered {} _filtered {} _filtered {} _filtered {}#yiv6089163930 #yiv6089163930 p.yiv6089163930MsoNormal, #yiv6089163930 li.yiv6089163930MsoNormal, #yiv6089163930 div.yiv6089163930MsoNormal {margin:0in;font-size:11.0pt;font-family:"Calibri", sans-serif;}#yiv6089163930 span.yiv6089163930EmailStyle17 {font-family:"Franklin Gothic Book", sans-serif;color:windowtext;}#yiv6089163930 .yiv6089163930MsoChpDefault {font-family:"Calibri", sans-serif;} _filtered {}#yiv6089163930 div.yiv6089163930WordSection1 {}-->Dear Fellow Vandals and Friends of the University,     In an unprecedented action, special interests have been actively working against passage of the higher education funding bill in the Idaho Legislature. They have executed a campaign of radio ads, robo-calling and pressure on our legislators that may never have before been matched in effort or spending.  These interests represent a libertarian-based ideology, the principles of which generally do not believe that any public funding should be used for public education. The misinformation and half-truths spread are directly impacting higher education funding by the Idaho Legislature.     They have targeted and tried to redefine issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice to create an illusion that higher education in Idaho is actively pushing a political agenda wrought with “leftist” indoctrination. You already know, based on your experience and relationship with the University of Idaho, that this is a completely inaccurate description of our institution. Yet, with the help and financial support of interests inside and outside of our state, this narrative gained enough traction to lead our legislators to defeat the higher education funding bill this week.     The University of Idaho has a longstanding, clear mission: to educate Idahoans. We do not condone indoctrination of any kind. We provide a place where people with all viewpoints can express themselves civilly. This is a core part of learning at an institution of higher education and, most importantly, is speech protected by the First Amendment. At the University of Idaho, we ask our faculty to ensure that multiple, differing sides of an issue are presented. We expect all our students and faculty to treat each other with respect, even when differing on viewpoints. In instances where students feel their views are not respected or that they have been shamed, there is a grievance process to evaluate claims and take action where appropriate, including where faculty or students do not meet our standards of respect. Regardless, the special interests have little incentive to make these truths known.     There is a troubling void of voices in the legislature standing up for the principles of critical thinking, the pursuit of knowledge, and the ability of students and faculty to explore ideas, examine the facts, and come to their own conclusions. The importance of protecting the First Amendment in the classroom was recently reiterated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, when they held last month in the Meriwether v. Hartop case that “American universities have been beacons of intellectual diversity and academic freedom” that “have tried not to stifle debate by picking sides.”  There is also a growing chorus that argues higher education is not worth the cost (despite the fact that college graduates earn over $1.2 million more over their lifetimes and live 9 years longer on average than non-graduates).      We have consistently and repeatedly told legislators that our industries demand critical thinkers.  But without our industries delivering the same message to our legislators, it falls flat.  There is a strong demand for a highly educated and diverse work force, a need Idaho’s universities are working hard to deliver. The four-year institutions have already agreed to hold tuition flat if the governor’s budget is passed. Defunding the state’s four-year institutions will make it even harder for industry to attract the workforce they need to grow in this state. This is a message I have heard over and over again.     The denigration of opportunities for the children of our state, together with the false narrative that a college degree is not valuable, are having a chilling effect on applications within the state of Idaho. In-state applications are down over 11%, a trend that is counter to the rest of the country (we are seeing dramatic increase in applications from other states).     It is likely that a new funding bill will again be taken up over the next few days. The attached talking points have already been distributed to our friends in the legislature. It is imperative the entire body hears directly from more than special interests and understands that public higher education needs public funding.  Countering the negativity and showing support for higher education is in the best interest of Idaho. Showing support at this moment now is critical. The health of our educational institutions, state and your business depend on it.     

Office of the President 
Office: Administration 105 
president at uidaho.edu 
875 Perimeter Dr  |  Moscow ID 83844-3151 
851 Campus Dr  |  Moscow ID 83844-3151   |

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