College investigates White privilege assignment, won't disclose findings

The school investigated the situation, and “closed” the matter, but won’t say what its findings were.

An assignment in which a professor told students to identify various types of privilege, including that of White people, males, and Mormons recently made headlines.

An investigation into an assignment from a communications professor at the College of Eastern Idaho is now considered “closed” by the college, but the school won’t announce what it found. President Rick Aman announced the investigation after a student made a complaint against the professor for instructing a class to identify various types of privilege for an assignment.

The assignment titled “Privileges Activity” began with a warning that “Completing this assignment honestly may cause some to feel that their identity is being challenged or questioned. Be sure to approach this assignment with the goal of achieving understanding and improving our communication with others.”

The activity then explained how attractive people have privileges that unattractive people don’t have. It states in part, “There are dozens of small and large privileges that are available to attractive people which are not so readily available to those seen as less physically attractive. Clearly, these privileges are not given to ALL attractive people ALL of the time; they are just tendencies that occur on a fairly regular basis.”

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“Your first task is to identify five such privileges,” the assignment states. “These privileges can be given to either men or women or to both. If you find yourself stuck on trying to think of examples, take the reverse approach of thinking of privileges that are denied to ‘unattractive’ people.”

Other questions on the assignment included identifying “five privileges that men receive in our culture,” and to identify the privileges of “individuals belonging to the majority Caucasian population.” The assignment ends with having students “identify five privileges that members of the majority religion in our area (i.e. Eastern Idaho, LDS) are given.” (LDS refers to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) 

When the student pointed out that other groups of people have privileges too, fellow classmates and the professor, “shamed him in a sexist and racist way while claiming their virtue signal points,” in an email written by a parent.

The student set up a meeting with Dean of Student Affairs Michael Walker to discuss the incident, which the student says he was encouraged to take the bias in stride and finish the course. Although the student thought he was filing an official complaint with Walker, a CEI spokesperson said that there is no record of a complaint on file about the professor.

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Once the story started to garner more attention, concerned state legislators got involved and met with Aman to discuss the assignment. 

After Representatives Barbara Ehardt, Wendy Horman, and Gary Marshall’s meeting with the president, a spokesperson from the school stated that the incident would be investigated: “These programs are not what everyone wants to project them to be. They actually promote hateful rhetoric against certain races, religions, conservatives and Republicans. … That’s my concern, and I have actually read tons of this material at the schools, and this is not the Idaho way at all,” Ehardt stated, according to the Idaho Falls Post-Register.

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National Association of Scholars Director of Research David Randall told Campus Reform that  CEI is betraying its students in this situation. 

“The College of Eastern Idaho betrays its mission to educate the student mind when it permits instructors or staff to use critical race theory (social justice, multicultural, diversity, equity, or any such cognate) inside or outside the classroom...The College of Eastern Idaho betrays its nonpartisan status when it permits instructors or staff to use critical race theory, which aims at partisan victory for the authoritarian left in all aspects of our nation’s life--certainly including the political sphere,” Randall said. 

Randall also stated that CEI is placing itself in “legal jeopardy” for disregarding President Donald Trump’s ban on critical race theory. “The College of Eastern Idaho places itself in legal jeopardy by defying the recent executive order prohibiting the use of critical race theory by recipients of federal funds. Other higher education institutions have already begun to pause their critical race theory activities.”

“The College of Eastern Idaho should cease all such activities, both to obey the law and to act as a prudent steward of the resources given to it by the citizens of Idaho. Idaho’s governor and state legislature should immediately investigate all its public institutions of higher education, to make sure that none of them risk wasting Idaho’s taxpayers’ dollars by sponsoring any critical race theory activity,” said Randall

CEI would not tell Campus Reform what the investigation found, stating, “CEI believes this incident is closed.” 

When asked if the professor is still teaching classes and/or employed, it declined to comment on “personnel issues.”

Campus Reform reached out to Walker as well as Horman and Marshall for comment but did not receive responses.

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