Keiser Hall is one of the several residence halls on Boise State’s campus as seen on March 15, 2019.
Freshman political science student Ryann Banks, center, told the Idaho Press she’s trying to be vocal about the problems she and other students of color are experiencing in Boise State housing.
Internal reports also show that as students are leaving campus housing in greater numbers, a few recently cited “racial issues” in dorms as one of the reasons.
Just before Thanksgiving, the resident director of Driscoll, Keiser, Morrison and Taylor (DKMT) dorms found Keiser hall decorations defaced by swastikas, the “N-word” and the phrase “burn everyone but whites,” according to a Feb. 18 report from The Arbiter, Boise State’s student newspaper.
“These three messages communicate racist, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist ideologies in a space that students are supposed to feel most at home, and are absolutely not tolerated or welcome in our residence halls or on campus here at Boise State,” Housing and Residence Life staff wrote in an email sent to students after the incident.
Jeremiah Shinn, vice president for student affairs, told the Idaho Press the university’s Office of Institutional Ethics and Compliance conducted an investigation into the notes left in Keiser Hall. The office closed the investigation Dec. 7 because it could not determine who wrote them, according to chief of staff and chief compliance officer Alicia Shier Estey.
An internal BSU Housing and Residence Life staff report shows student requests to leave on-campus housing increased 41 percent from the first semester of the 2017-2018 academic year compared to the first semester of the 2018-2019 academic year, while student housing cancellation requests before they even move in is up 35 percent. When students file paperwork for housing releases and cancellations, a section of the form allows for them to explain why — these responses allow housing staff to determine the most common reasons for leaving on-campus residences.
So far in the 2018-2019 academic year, three of the 288 students who requested to leave campus housing listed incidents of racism in halls as their reason for leaving, said Luke Jones, director of Housing and Residence Life. While the number is small, the comments reiterate the continued impact of the Thanksgiving incident.
Of the more than 25,500 students enrolled at Boise State, roughly 3,000 live on campus, according to school officials. Of the total student population, 73 percent are white; 13 percent are Hispanic; 2 percent are Asian; and 2 percent are African American.
‘We just want to feel safe’