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Kustra, Craig: Poster’s No Good

BSU Republican event with Robert Vasquez Thursday draws fire

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Boise State President Bob Kustra and U.S. Sen. Larry Craig were the latest to weigh in on the Boise State College Republicans’ poster flap.

The poster and Web site advertisement, which are designed to attract people to an anti-immigration talk by Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez on Thursday, set off a flurry of criticism of the tiny campus organization.

Both the poster and Web site advertised, “Win dinner for two at a local Mexican Restaurant! Climb through the hole in the fence and enter your false ID documents in the food stamp drawing!”

In a letter to faculty and staff Wednesday, Kustra expressed his opposition to the message.

“Unfortunately, a handful of students have engaged in offensive and insulting behavior, most recently with nasty and hurtful fliers announcing a political speech they are sponsoring on campus,” Kustra wrote. “I was shocked when I first heard what was on the flyer and assumed they would take immediate steps to rectify the situation. That they have refused to do so, other than to apologize to a restaurant because they like to eat there, is unconscionable.”

Kustra asked the students to remove the flyers, and to denounce the ad campaign. Also, he said, he was willing to consider hosting a forum on immigration to further discuss the issue.

Ironically, the flap over the message comes just weeks after Sawmiller and others got Kustra to agree to a new lecture series to help them bring speakers to campus who, the students hoped, would be more balanced than recent ones.

Sawmiller and others wanted conservative speakers to offset talks by former Vice President Al Gore, Jesse Jackson and others who they felt did not represent a broad enough spectrum of ideas.

“We’ve come to expect a standard response from the leftist groups,” Sawmiller said. “Any time we take a position on an issue we’re called racist, homophobic, or whatever the appropriate ad hominem attack is.”

Now, a fellow Republican has piled on. In an interview, Craig spokesman Sid Smith said the conservative Republican Senator is all for a good vigorous debate, but not a hurtful attack.

“The idea ought to be to generate a thoughtful and reasoned debate rather than angering and offending people,” said Smith. “In looking at the poster, it was probably ill-considered.”

Since then, a handful of organizations including the Ada County Democratic Party, the Boise State Cultural Center and a group of churches have stated their opposition to the event, and some have plans to picket Vasquez’s talk.

But Vasquez not only thinks the Boise State College Republicans aren’t being offensive with their anti-immigration flyer, he discussed it with students before they wrote it up.

“I have no problem with it, for a very basic reason,” Vasquez said. “It merely demonstrates what millions of illegal aliens do to get in this country.”

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