University Foundations (UF) 200 courses have been reinstated for the fall semester. Boise State University ended the suspension of the mandatory ethics course after an investigation led by an independent law firm revealed claims of student mistreatment to be false.
Two months after rumors surfaced about a video of a student being publicly degraded for their beliefs in a UF 200 class, a third-party law firm by the name of Hawley Troxell led an independent investigation into the alleged claims.
Dr. Matt Recla, interim associate director of University Foundations, emphasized the university’s intention to take the complaint seriously and hire an outside firm to assess the situation.
“It was deemed, in this case, that it was important not to make it seem like we did an in-house investigation and said ‘oh everything’s fine,’” Recla said. “So for us, the fact that it was a neutral party [and a] well-respected law firm in town — that was satisfactory.”
The investigation extended past the end of the spring 2021 semester, forcing the course to adopt a purely online format once the suspension was removed less than a week later.
“It wasn’t a decided thing that the course would not return in person. It was extended as long as it needed to be for the investigation to be completed,” Recla said. “Because the alleged complaint [would have been] serious if it were to have been true, it was best to minimize the sort of in-person interaction to give the investigation the most neutral ground.”
While the investigation put the initial discrimination allegations to rest, not everyone was satisfied with the university’s decision to bring UF 200 courses back.
The UF 200 controversy came amid the longest legislative session in the state’s history, largely because of attacks against public education from far-right lawmakers that resulted in a $1.5 million budget cut to Boise State.
Despite this criticism, the response from students and faculty amidst the return of UF 200 courses has been notably positive.
“My impression is that, overwhelmingly, both the university supports the course, and students that take the course support the course,” Recla said.
When the suspension was first announced, many students reached out to the university voicing their disappointment.
According to Recla, many of the emails from students contained protective statements about faculty and asked for the classes to be reinstated.
Angel Venegas, a junior majoring in political science, recalled the difficulty of completing the course while not having guidance from professors during the suspension.
“[The suspension] affected me in a big way, because it was halfway through a project we were doing in order to help refugees,” Venegas said. “Still, I think the university handled it well concerning the situation that we’re in.”
Even with UF 200 courses being brought back, the university remains committed to defending the values of the course from more recent challenges, such as the passing of House Bill 377.
For Boise State, that means keeping information about the courses and the investigation open to the public.
“I feel like people know about [the accusations]. They know what happened, but they’re not fully informed about [the investigation findings],” Venegas said.
For more details about the investigation, the official “Hawley Troxell Boise State University Investigation Report” can be found online via theFIRE.org.