Guest AuthorsOpinion

Opinion: To address Yenor, direct your efforts toward the legislature

Students and campus community members gathered in the Boise State quad to protest Prof. Scott Yenor | Photo by Claire Keener
This article was written by Cheyon Sheen, a fourth-year civil engineering student at Boise State.

With the current uproar of Scott Yenor, I want to mention that 1) signing a petition to further investigate and 2) emailing Marlene Tromp (or anyone else at Boise State) about how he should be fired will not create sustainable change. 

Let me give some background information.

There were a ridiculous amount of bills last legislative session that attempted to restrict women’s rights, to make it increasingly more difficult to vote, to control and punish Boise State, and to defund diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives. Some of these succeeded. Why do you think the Student Multicultural Center got renamed to just Student Equity?

Last year, H0364 passed in the House of Representatives (thankfully not in the Senate — but who knows what will happen next year). 

Its statement of purpose was as follows:

“This proposed legislation will direct our institutions of higher learning in their responsibility to uphold its student, faculty and staff’s Constitutional and First Amendment right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to peacefully assemble and more.”

"Abort Yenor" sign at the rally held in the Boise State quad on Dec. 4, 2021.
[Photo of an “Abort Yenor” sign at the rally held in the Boise State Quad on Dec. 4, 2021]
Photo by Claire Keener | The Arbiter

“Supreme Court language is used to clearly define terms so that free speech in and outside the classroom is understood and protected. Since a significant amount of taxpayer dollars is appropriated to public institutions of higher education each year, and as such, the legislature must ensure that all public institutions of higher education receiving state funds recognize freedom of speech as a fundamental right for all.”

Basically, “we will defund you, Boise State, if you do anything that violates one’s first amendment rights.” PASSED — 56-12-2. Interesting, because Republicans also claim to want less government control.

I hope students will try to understand why Boise State is only releasing statements about supporting the First Amendment rights and not specifically and publicly addressing Scott Yenor. 

Boise State is walking a tightrope with the state legislature. And it’s not always so black and white. 

Even if Boise State could fire this professor (and they can’t, because Scott Yenor is tenured), we would be under more scrutiny from the legislature who would further decrease our budget. 

There goes your research money, your sports, your department’s funding to grow and offer more classes for you to further pursue your education. Though it may seem that Boise State officials are not addressing this and therefore do not support women, they do. They are trying to secure our funding for our education.

If you want to help make Boise State a better place, then please guide your energy into addressing the root problem, the Idaho Legislature. 

We have elected officials that support and share the same values as Scott Yenor and these same elected officials vote to defund and lower Boise State’s budget for all kinds of wack reasons. Last year one of the reasons we lost funding was for “indoctrinating students about social justice.” 

If you don’t want people like that to continue to stay in positions of power, then start educating yourself about what is happening at Idaho’s capitol and start contacting your representatives and let them know how you, as their constituent, want them to vote on bills that concern higher education and women’s rights.

If you are from Idaho, find out who your legislators are (maybe they are one of the 52 that voted to pass HB364) and contact them about supporting higher education and women’s rights. Especially if you are outside of Ada County. 

If you are not from Idaho, register to vote in this state, get involved in this community’s elections. As you reside here, these legislators create laws that directly affect you and your community. Help Idahoans create a better community.

For everyone, when you see organizers asking you to send a letter to your representative, please please please take the time to do so. I hope now you can see more of how these things affect us, especially marginalized communities. 

Support organizations that fight to increase education funding, fight for women’s rights, voting rights and whatever else you want to see change for the better. You can do this by donating your time, energy and uplifting their voices and sharing what’s happening with a friend or two. 

Sustainable change starts when you start taking action to address root causes.

With all this said, I want to express extra appreciation, especially as a woman in engineering, for all the staff and faculty at Boise State and within the community who immediately spoke up and are trying to make a change. 

Don’t let this energy die. We have a long way to go before we make sustainable change.

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