School of Public Service News
Career Goal: Spy
When Cameron Crow studied Political Science at Boise State, he had a very specific career goal in mind. He wanted to become a spy.
He succeeded. A summer internship at the National Security Agency led to an Intelligence Analyst position at the NSA upon graduation. While at the NSA, he continued his education at Georgetown University, studying Security and International Relations.
But he quickly realized that the culture and pace of Federal government employment was not a fit for his personality or his desire to make a significant impact quickly. So he leveraged his intelligence analysis skills into a private sector career as a business intelligence analyst with a San Francisco tech company.
Later, when he decided to return to Boise, he looked for ways to use his analytical skills to make Boise a better place, initially using his technical skills with pro bono work for Idaho non-profits. He also launched his first company, Boise Analytics, to help small and medium-sized businesses with their data needs.
Applying Innovative Data Methodology to Local Government
Crow also noted that, in our current polarized environment and social media echo chamber, civil discourse and agreed-upon facts and data are often lacking. With this in mind, he founded another company, Make Boise Better, to create a following of engaged Boiseans that want to be better informed and be a part of solutions to problems.
“A better-informed society is a better one,” said Crow. “And is probably more likely to show empathy and to have civilized dialogue.”
Public service is an integral part of Make Boise Better, and Crow credits his time at Boise State with instilling in him a sense of the public interest. “I had some really good professors that got me excited about the idea of making an impact,” said Crow. He notes Political Science professors Ross Burkhart, Mike Touchton and Greg Raymond among those sparking a desire to make a positive change.
He also listed writing for Boise State’s The Arbiter newspaper and his NSA internship as important experiential learning opportunities he was able to take advantage of.
Get Involved in a Cause You Care About
Many of his colleagues at Georgetown and the NSA came from Ivy League backgrounds, and Crow admits to initially wondering if he would be out of his element. However, he quickly discovered that “great students at Boise State are just as good as great students at Harvard or Yale.”
And while things aren’t “handed to you,” at Boise State the way they might be at more privileged institutions, Crow feels that the critical thinking skills he learned at Boise State are ultimately more important.
When asked about advice for current Political Science students, Crow encourages them to avoid getting locked in to any particular path. “Try things on for size,” he said. “Get involved in a cause you care about.”
A student team from Boise State took first prize in the “Innovate Against Hate” competition sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. The competition challenged students to respond to hate and extremism with innovative use of new and existing technologies.
Boise State’s project was selected as one of three finalists from 19 participating universities across the nation. Finalists were invited to Washington, D.C. to give presentations and answer questions from panel of expert judges from Human Rights organizations, religious groups and corporations. Finalists also visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Boise State team of Andrew Castro, Sydney Skidmore, Abby Wood and Janice Witherspoon addressed domestic violence, sexism and extremism in their project SAME (Students Against Misogynistic Establishments).
Skidmore said the project helped her understand how widespread and pervasive the problem of misogyny is. “This experience has inspired me to further my work in advocacy and speak up so no one has to ever feel alone.”
First prize was an award of $5,000. Team member Andrew Castro noted that the team is looking to create a more comprehensive approach to targeting violent misogyny. “I think the competition has inspired us to go even further with our campaign,” said Castro.
The SAME project is a service learning component of Political Science 306 taught by Isaac Castellano. Team member Janice Witherspoon credits the course as a factor in the project’s success.
“We are asked often times in political science to look at a problem, historical and current, and answer how we would approach it. The development of this skill was imperative to our campaign’s success and eventual victory in D.C.,” said Witherspoon.
Boise State Public Policy and Administration and Master of Public Health graduate students researched homelessness this semester, taking a special look at housing insecurity among university students. In addition to the academic research, a service-learning component comprised an integral part of the Introduction to Public Administration course.
The students prepared and served dinner to 50 families and children at the Interfaith Sanctuary over two nights in early March. They also participated in the City of Boise Point in Time Count in January, which counted the number of individuals experiencing homelessness. This data helps determine the amount of federal funding awarded for homeless programs locally and also helps the city better grasp the nature of homelessness in the community.
The students presented their research findings to university and community housing leaders on April 25. Their three group presentations analyzed conditions contributing to student homelessness and made actionable recommendations for addressing the issue.
A presentation titled Highway to Housing discussed factors contributing to housing insecurity among students. Among the challenges for Boise State students are a housing shortage in the downtown and campus area, along with a lack of transportation between lower-cost housing areas and campus. The group also noted approximately half the cost of Idaho higher education is now paid through student tuition and fees, as opposed to twenty years ago when it was almost entirely financed through state funds. The group also noted that while median income has doubled since 1984, the cost of higher education has nearly quadrupled. As a result of financial strain, students frequently work more hours than are conducive to student success.
The presentation Student Homelessness on College Campuses: A proposal for emergency short-term housing services examines the approaches taken by universities nationally to tackle housing insecurity. For example, the University of Utah has created a “Student Homelessness Task Force” with over 20 university offices and departments participating. Their program, in which housing-insecure students are assigned a Student Success Advocate, typically spends around $600 to retain a student.
The Resource Navigator presentation explored the reality of daily life for homeless students and examined the statistics surrounding student housing insecurity nationally and at Boise State. The group noted the complexities of the financial aid application process can be a hurdle to low-income families. This is evidenced by 11% of nationally surveyed students receiving Pell grants, a program designed to assist low-income students, who experienced homelessness in the past year.
While each of the three presentations had a different focus, there were several common recommendations. Recurring proposals included: forming a task force comprised of relevant university offices, the inclusion of a “Basic Needs Statement” addressing housing insecurity in all university course syllabi, participating in the University of Wisconsin HOPE lab study, and the eventual creation of case management positions on campus to better follow up with students after services have been provided.
Eva Rodriguez, a first generation Latina student at Boise State University, has been selected to serve on the prestigious Student Advisory Council (SAC) for the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Rodriguez will travel to Washington, D.C. in early November where she will attend a leadership retreat and meet the nine other students chosen from throughout the country to serve on the 2017-2018 council.
Rodriguez is a political science major in her senior year and plans to attend graduate school. Her goal is to work in Regional and Urban Planning. She was a participant in the National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership Idaho in 2017 and is active in Alpha Pi Sigma, a sorority founded to support the Latino community.
SAC members advise AAUW on issues of importance to collegiate women, represent AAUW in their communities and serve as peer leaders at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) held in May. NCCWSL attracts close to a 1,000 college students a year from around the country and features a variety of speakers ranging from advocates Chelsea Clinton and Lily Ledbetter to artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs. As a peer advocate, Rodriguez will have an active role in helping to plan and lead the 2018 event.
Boise State Professor Lori Hausegger nominated Rodriguez for the position. “Eva engages fully in everything she undertakes,” said Hausegger.” She has overcome many challenges, pushed herself out of her comfort zone and excelled in her pursuit to further her interests and her community.”
Research suggests that women are just as likely as men to be elected when they run for an office; however, they are considerably less likely to run. Women typically need to be asked multiple times before they will seek public office so programs such as AAUW’s Student Advisory Committee are instrumental in ensuring more women participate.
Boise State University’s Idaho Policy Institute, within the School of Public Service, teamed up with the City of Boise, Ada County and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago for Voices of Youth Count, a first-of-its-kind national effort aimed at ending youth homelessness.
Ada County was one of 22 counties from across the United States to participate in the program.
Among homeless or unstably housed youth who were surveyed in Ada County, the findings showed:
- 16 percent had been in foster care
- 29 percent had been incarcerated or in juvenile detention
- 24 percent had been in foster care and incarcerated or in juvenile detention
- 20 percent of females were either a parent or pregnant
- 18 percent of males were either parents or their partner was pregnant
- 65 percent were male
From 3:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, Ada County and the Idaho Policy Institute will co-host a public event to present and discuss the research findings. The event will take place in the first-floor public hearing room at the Ada County courthouse.
Dozens of community volunteers, including young adults who had experienced housing instability, carried out youth-led counts and surveys of young people and providers to collect information about the number and characteristics of youth experiencing homelessness and the services available to them.
“Evidence shows that in order for youth to reach their full potential they need access to school, work and stable housing,” said Vanessa Fry, Boise State’s research lead and assistant director of the Idaho Policy Institute. “This research provides information specific to Ada County’s youth in regards to both current access and available supportive services.”
“It is our hope that the people of Ada County, who work so hard to serve homeless young people, will find important evidence in this research that will accelerate solutions,” said Bryan Samuels, executive director of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. “Together we are building an unprecedented foundation on which to create policies, programs, and practices to respond to and ultimately end youth homelessness.”
Voices of Youth Count comes at a critical time for communities and Congress. Reliable data, new strategies and direct engagement have accelerated the nation’s progress in preventing and ending veterans’ homelessness. But efforts to end homelessness among young people, whose circumstances and needs are very different, have lacked the focus that strong data can bring to resource decisions and coordination across communities.
As findings emerge, Chapin Hall will place data and evidence in local and national context, make purposeful connections between existing and new knowledge and policy, and provide decision makers at national and local levels with recommendations for action.
“When the Ada County commissioners were invited to participate in the Voices of Youth Count, we were intrigued with the concept,” said Commission Chairman David Case. “But really unaware of the extent of our homeless youth population. After reaching out to the three school districts in the county, we were shocked at the extent of the problem and highly motivated to help find solutions.”
As the community moves forward to address the findings from the Voices of Youth Count effort, project partners will continue to meet regularly to discuss solutions and next steps. “We are grateful for the opportunity to be part of this innovative program alongside our local partner agencies and for the Idaho Policy Institute’s continued work to provide analysis and research for this effort,” said Corey Cook, dean of the School of Public Service.
“We look forward to the opportunity of taking the next step and answering the question of how we, as a society, will meet the needs of our most vulnerable youth, get them into safe environments and help them reach their full potential as they move toward adulthood,” said Case.
Voices of Youth Count is made possible with generous financial support from Arcus Foundation, Ballmer Group Philanthropy, Campion Foundation, Casey Family Programs, Chapin Hall, Inger Davis, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Melville Charitable Trust, Raikes Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Chapin Hall is solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations in Voices of Youth Count publications. Such statements and interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the government or any of Chapin Hall’s other partners.
The 22 county locations were selected using a rigorous sampling methodology to ensure diversity of region, population density, and the availability of services for homeless youth. All counties participated voluntarily and local organizations contributed their time and expertise to the research.
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago is a policy research center that provides public and private decision-makers with rigorous data analysis and achievable solutions to support them in improving the lives of society’s most vulnerable children, youth and families.
The Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University’s School of Public Service is an independent source of research and analysis for decision makers in Idaho. Idaho Policy Institute’s work enables public, private, and nonprofit leaders to develop innovative solutions to pressing challenges.
About Boise State University
A public metropolitan research university with more than 23,000 students, Boise State is proud to be powered by creativity and innovation. Located in Idaho’s capital city, the university has a growing research agenda and plays a crucial role in the region’s knowledge economy and famed quality of life. In the past 10 years, the university has quadrupled the number of doctoral degrees and doubled its master’s degree offerings. Learn more at www.BoiseState.edu.
Original Source: Boise State Update
Idaho Policy Institute (IPI) Assistant Director, Vanessa Fry, presented the results of IPI’s evaluation of a free pre-kindergarten program at a press event at the Whitney Community Center. The program provides free, high quality, preschool education to 3-5 year olds at Whitney and Hawthorne elementary schools, both located in Boise’s Vista neighborhood.
The evaluation, authored by Ms. Fry, IPI Research Associate Sally Sargeant-Hu and IPI Graduate Research Assistant Lance McGinnis-Brown, found that students who attended Vista Pre-K were more likely to achieve benchmark scores on the Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI) than their peers who didn’t attend the program. In fall 2016, 86% of Vista Pre-K students attending kindergarten at Witney and Hawthorne achieved benchmark or higher on the IRI while only 53% of their peers achieved benchmark. Across the entire Boise School District 64% of kindergarteners achieved benchmark on the fall 2016 IRI.
Dr. Jennifer Stevens, a Boise State professor of the practice in Urban Studies and Community Development and History, will receive a 2017 Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts and History. She will be honored for “Excellence in History.”
Stevens has been a professional historian for nearly 25 years and is the principal and president of Stevens Historical Research Associates. She joined Boise State in Fall of 2017. Her work focuses on environmental history, land, water and transportation history, urban planning, U.S. business history and commemorative events. She serves on Boise’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and has served on the City’s Historic Preservation Commission.
The Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts and History event takes place on Thursday, September 21 at 5:30 at the Boise Depot.
The School of Public Service is saddened to learn of the passing of Governor Cecil D. Andrus, who passed away Thursday evening.
Governor Andrus, called “Idaho’s Greatest Governor” in a recent biography, made innumerable contributions to the State of Idaho and to our nation. His list of accomplishments includes serving as Idaho Governor for fourteen years, the most in our history. He also served as United States Secretary of Interior, becoming the first Idahoan to serve in a United States cabinet position.
Governor Andrus was well-liked and respected, even by many who disagreed with his policies. Despite his patience, competence and commitment to bipartisanship and compromise when possible, Governor Andrus cared passionately about issues and worked tirelessly to pass important legislation. He was perhaps most known for his commitment to preserving and protecting our natural resources and public lands. He was also dedicated to public education and to empowering leaders from underrepresented communities.
While Governor Andrus’ legacy is immeasurable, the School of Public Service is particularly grateful for his work establishing the Andrus Center for Public Policy. The Andrus Center advances his legacy by championing wise use of our environmental resources and public lands, proper funding of education for our children and the cultivation of leadership from all segments of our society.
A permanent exhibit honoring Governor Andrus will be housed in the Andrus Center in the new School of Public Service building. The building is currently in planning stages.
School of Public Service Dean Corey Cook said, “The issues that Governor Andrus worked on as a governor and member of the cabinet are just as relevant today as they were during his time in office. His rare combination of passion and civility serves as a model for current and future leaders. Governor Andrus got things done and he got things done the right way.”
In memory of Cecil D. Andrus, Idaho’s four-term governor, U.S. Interior secretary, and champion for the environment, public lands, and education, the Andrus family requests memorial gifts be made to the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University, which is dedicated to furthering his life’s work and legacy.
Connecting the Dots: A response to Scott Yenor’s opinion piece in the Daily Signal by a concerned Boise State University colleague
There is something here. This is not random. There is a reason that I was contacted by both colleagues and community members expressing concern and outrage about an update from one of the campus departments, which shared an article, that one of their faculty members has recently produced. Folks that contacted me were concerned about the content of the article that they characterized (I think correctly), as derogatory of feminists, the LGBT community and people generally concerned with issues of justice related to gender. This issue arose just the day before the tragic events in Charlottesville, Va. became a national moment of attention. There is a reason that these things happened in succession and their proximity in my attention is no accident.
The article that folks were referring to is a piece written by a tenured professor at Boise State University, Dr. Scott Yenor, entitled, Transgender Activists Are Seeking to Undermine Parental Rights. Dr. Yenor’s ties to the Heritage Foundation should shed some light on the general “culture war” tenor of the piece, in which he posits, basically that feminism’s ultimate aim is something slightly less than cultural Armageddon, in which the real end to the march of progress that saw gay marriage as a victory, is a social order in which neither children nor parents have any rights protection with respect to one another in a sort of stalemate of gender sovereignty. His piece is easy enough to dismiss on logical grounds, but serves as a very telling peek into the pathetic fear of change gripping those that patronize such sources as the Heritage foundation.
It is also, however, the seed of a dangerous idea; the dangerous idea that those different from you are not just different than you, but that they actually have nefarious ends and seek to destroy you and everything you cherish. It is this dangerous idea that is the very same seed that, when nourished and allowed to grow, becomes the kind of hatred and intolerance that we saw on Display in Charlottesville. The anti-defamation league’s pyramid of hate (available on the anti-defamation leagues’ website) visually depicts the relationship between this kind of seed and its ultimate end. It is a meaningful graphic that brings into sharp relief the evolutionary relationship between behind closed-door cultural alienation as an individual and how those lonely individuals seek out like-minded others and eventually foster a sense that these fear based and misguided ideas should spur some action. The pyramid depicts a process which builds from bias to individual acts of prejudice that ultimately produce discrimination, bias motivated violence and build to a genocidal end. It is a powerful graphic that cites history as its ultimate author.
There is a direct line between these fear fueled conspiratorial theories and the resurrection of a violent ideology which sees the “other” as a direct threat to existence and therefore necessary to obliterate. It is not an absolute succession and it is not a line without potential breaks or interruptions. Not every person who agrees with Yenor’s piece is likely to become an espoused Neo-Nazi, but likely every Neo-Nazi would agree with the substance of Yenor’s piece. It is this troubling truth that should move us to more critically and forcefully call this connection out in a clear and plain way. Yenor’s piece includes a seed of hate that needs to be labeled for what it is, the spirit of an ideological animal called supremacy; supremacy of male over female, of straight over gay and of our way over yours. Supremacy is the root of genocide and this is a seed that we must label as clearly and plainly as possible as “toxic”, and a danger to all those that would handle it. I realize that some would call me alarmist for identifying such an association at all, but as someone that has grown up in the rural west, I just don’t know how you can deny the logic that reducing the impact of toxic seeds by identifying them helps us to ultimately control the character of what we will inevitably have to sow.
Director, Student Diversity and Inclusion