Idaho Student Paper “Hate” Piece Angers Boise State Prez

Bob Kustra, the president of Boise State University, has publicly apologized for a recent rant against the school’s athletic rival, the University of Idaho, in which he called the UI campus culture “nasty” and “inebriated.”

The primary trigger for the un-presidential outburst, according to Kustra: a recent opinion column run in The Argonaut, UI’s student newspaper, which informed incoming UI students that they will hate BSU.

“There is one crucial element all incoming students need to know about attending the University of Idaho,” the student writer of the piece relates. “It is not that classes will be hard or time-consuming, how to find classes or to know which building is which, or where you will live or how to pay for school. It is that as a UI Vandal [the school’s mascot], you will hate Boise State University. . . . True, die-hard Vandals hate BSU with a passion that at times seems unreal.”

The piece passionately derides the BSU fight song and mascot, while calling the schools’ rivalry intermittently “dirty, mean and vulgar.”  Is it a straightforward “hate” column that possibly steps over the line?  Is it meant to be impassioned to the point of satire?  Is it simply a spirited battle cry prior to a big football game (the two foes meet in mid-November)? Or is it a diatribe solely intended to anger BSU students and staff?

If its aim was the latter, mission accomplished.  The column definitely nabbed a spot under Kustra’s skin and caused him to lash out during a subsequent interview with the Idaho Statesman editorial board. In his apology, he noted, “It troubles me that the occasion of an annual football game causes the air waves and Internet to be full of disparagement of Boise State’s students, faculty and programs, year after year.”

As an outside observer and college football fan, my first two impressions: 1) I wonder if The Arbiter, Boise State’s student newspaper, will respond.  2) I cannot wait to watch this game.

One Response to “Idaho Student Paper “Hate” Piece Angers Boise State Prez”
  1. Ryan says:

    Point of order: I don’t think you can classify what Kustra said as an apology. Seems to me that he’s just saying he didn’t think people would get so worked up about what he said. And that’s not the same thing as apologizing. Not in my book, anyway.

    I’m curious, though. I’m not a big follower–or theorizer–of student media, and so I have a question for those of you here: How can we conceptualize Kustra’s use of an undergraduate opinion piece here? It seems to me like he’s choosing an “easy target” to criticize and ultimately justify his position (to not play at Idaho again). But looking at the student’s piece in this way–as somehow less than a “professional piece”–unfairly gives the work a kind of precious quality (like the poems of school children, say) that ultimately serves to reinscribe the idea that student writing should not be taken seriously.