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Boise State Team Takes First Place in “Innovate Against Hate” Competition in Washington, D.C.

Photo of Students at Washington Monument 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.

Photo of students winning award“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.

PPA Students Present Findings from Homelessness Research

Photo of Students

Introduction to Public Policy and Administration students presenting their research and recommendations, April 25, 2018.

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.

photo of students serving at Homeless shelter

Introduction to Public Policy and Administration students serving at Interfaith Sanctuary, March 2018.

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.

photo of students preparing a mealThe 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.

photo of students preparing a mealThe 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.

News: Boise State Political Science Senior Selected to Serve on National Council

Photo of Eva Rodriguez

Eva Rodriguez

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.

Data Released on Youth Experiencing Homelessness in Ada County

photo of young man who looks possibly homeless

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

Original Source: Boise State Update

IPI Assistant Director Shares Results of Pre-K Research

photo of Vanessa Fry
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.

Photo of Mayor Bieter with children

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and Boise School District Superintendent Dr. Don Coberly with a group of Vista Pre-K students

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.

Boise Pre-K Program Evaluation Report

Urban Studies Professor of the Practice Honored for Excellence in History

Photo of Dr. Jennifer StevensDr. 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.

School of Public Service Saddened by Passing of Governor Cecil D. Andrus

Photo of Governor Cecil D. Andrus

Governor Cecil D. Andrus

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.”

Read more about Governor Andrus in the Idaho Statesman.

photo of governor andrus on a horseIn 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.

The Cecil Andrus Center Chair for Environment and Public Lands

Connecting the Dots

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.

Francisco Salinas
Director, Student Diversity and Inclusion

Brittany Sundell Joins School of Public Service

Photo of Brittany SundellThe School of Public Service has added an additional advisor to better serve its growing student population. Brittany Sundell joins the School after nearly three years as a Resident Hall Director for Boise State Housing and Residence Life.

“Brittany’s rich experiences over the years as an advisor and resident hall director make her ideally suited for our advising team in the School of Public Service,” said School of Public Service Associate Dean Andrew Giacomazzi. “Brittany has the skills and abilities to foster student success in a growing college. We are excited that she is joining our team!”

Prior to arriving at Boise State, Sundell served as Hall Director for St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. She holds a Master of Organizational Leadership from St. Ambrose and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology/Sociology from Plymouth State in New Hampshire.

The School of Public Service will begin offering three new undergraduate majors in Fall 2017. Global Studies and Urban Studies and Community Development are new Boise State degree programs. Environmental Studies is joining the School from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Are Students Hungry?

Food Insecurity on the Boise State Campus

photo of student presentingOver forty percent of Boise State students have experienced some form of food insecurity. Food insecurity, the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, is a growing but often invisible problem on college campuses nation-wide. Food-insecure students report that hunger can negatively impact their academic performance and their ability to complete their studies. Recent studies have indicated the alarming scope of the issue nationally and a new study by the Idaho Policy Institute quantifies the issue among Boise State students.

MPA students gained hands-on experience through a service-learning project and offered a plan for improving food security among students. The PUB 500 class investigated Boise State student food insecurity throughout the spring semester and recently shared their findings, discussed challenges and made recommendations for tackling the problem in a public presentation on Boise State’s campus.

Photo of Dr. Matthew May of the Idaho Policy Institute

Dr. Matthew May of the Idaho Policy Institute

The class taught is taught by Wendy Jaquet and consists of six students from various majors, including PPA. Jaquet thinks that grappling with real issues impacting students is an important part of the learning process. “I try to make sure that my students experience working on an issue that is close to home,” says Jaquet. “I believe that this prepares them for the practice of public administration in the real world.”

The presentation began with Dr. Matthew May of the Idaho Policy Institute discussing IPI’s findings on food insecurity at Boise State and how it compares to national trends. In general, Boise State students experienced higher rates of high food security, lower rates of low food security and a one percent higher rate of very low food security than the national average. Other key points included:

  • Thirty percent of food insecure students reported that hunger or housing problems had an impact on their education
  • Sixty-one percent of food insecure reported being currently employed
  • Food insecure Boise State students reported higher student loan burdens than national average
  • Forty-eight percent, reported using services such as SNAP or WIC, 13 points lower than national average

Public Administration students continued the presentation, noting that while Boise State students have slightly above-average food security than the nation on the whole, providing services for food-insecure students has proved a challenge. Drawing on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they discussed the difficulties in maintaining academic performance while their physiological needs are not secure.

Photo of students

Left to right: Danielle Taylor, Tammy Perkins, Alexis Pickering, Ana Costa, Ryan McGoldrick, Graham Reed

Photo of student making presentationThrough this service-learning experience, students identified several obstacles that make overcoming food security on campus a challenge. Among them are a negative stigma about being food insecure, a gap in student involvement, a lack of collaboration and communication between stakeholders, and a sense that a level of hunger is a character-building rite of passage for college students.

The students analyzed food security efforts at other Idaho universities as well as the strengths and weaknesses of current hunger alleviation efforts at Boise State before making recommendations. The group’s primary recommendation was the launch of a campus food pantry. This effort would require increased communication and  collaboration from various campus stakeholders and service providers as well as greater student involvement. The class presented a detailed model of what such a panty would need to be a success and outlined potential roles for existing service providers and students.

A note about survey methodology:
The Idaho Policy Institute surveyed all Boise State University Foundation 200 students during the Spring 2017 semester (N=1,138). The questionnaire included 33 questions collecting 74 data points on each respondent. A total 257 usable responses were collected, for a 23% response rate. Modeled after a national study, it utilized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “U.S. Adult Food Security Survey Module: Three-Stage design, With Screeners” scoring methodology to score the respondent’s level of food security.

The survey was administered online via Qualtrics and was open for three weeks (1/24 thru 2/14). IPI’s Dr. Matthew May adds, “Because the population was limited to UF200 students, plus the low response rate, generalizability is limited but the results do serve as a starting point for assessing how Boise State students compare with the national numbers.”