The Argonaut – ASUI encourages Idaho State Board of Education to adopt expanded definition of diversity  | #Education

ASUI passed a resolution encouraging the Idaho State Board of Education to expand its definition of diversity. 

The resolution sought to expand upon a proposed policy introduced this past summer by the ISBE to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in Idaho’s higher education. Wednesday’s resolution recommended that the state board address inconsistencies between the diverse characteristics recognized by Idaho’s public higher education institutions and the recently proposed policy. 

According to ASUI’s resolution, the diversity policies that have been adopted by the University of Idaho, Boise State University, Idaho State University and Lewis-Clark State College uphold a significantly broader definition of diversity. ISBE’s proposed policy is more limited.  

Since each of the state institutions has expanded definitions, the resolution posited that individual diversity statements would be less comprehensive as institutions would likely update their definitions and standards to reflect the state policy more closely. 

Under the policies adopted by all of Idaho’s four-year public institutions, gender, including gender identity and gender expression, sexual orientation and veteran status are all recognized in anti-discrimination policy. The resolution calls for these characteristics, in addition to citizenship status and marital status, to be added to the ISBE’s pending policy. 

“Although I believe the overall intention of the policy is super good, it leaves out crucial components of what diversity is,” Sen. Herman Roberts said, adding that an expanded definition would allow for the ISBE to more effectively “promote a message of inclusion for students of all backgrounds.” 

At this time, ISBE has delayed action on the policy, according to a press release.  

“Before we continue consideration of a new policy, we are going to conduct a campus climate survey of students later this fall,” ISBE President Kurt Liebich stated in the release. “It will be a scientific survey conducted by the board office and independent of the institutions.  We should have results back after the first of the year.” 

In a follow-up on last week’s meeting, Vice President Katelyn Hettinga presented an update on last week’s unanimously passed resolution calling for paid parental leave for UI faculty and staff, citing positive reception to the proposal from Provost and Executive Vice President Torrey Lawrence. 

Though UI continues to meet the minimum federal standard of parental leave requirements, the university falls behind parental leave policies adopted by BSU, ISU and Washington State University. 

The resolution, which calls for 12 weeks of paid parental leave for eligible faculty and staff upon being hired, will continue to be considered by university administrators. 

Royce McCandless can be reached at [email protected] or Twitter @roycemccandless 

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