PHOENIX — A Flagstaff lawmaker’s bid to financially punish colleges and universities that teach ethnic and “social justice” courses is apparently going nowhere, at least not this year.
Rep. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, who chairs the House Education Committee, will not hear the measure proposed by Rep. Bob Thorpe, which was assigned to his committee.
Thorpe said Wednesday he is not dissuaded by the setback — or even the negative national publicity — saying he believes he accomplished something by starting a conversation on the issue.
“I think I’ve almost started a nationwide, if not international, debate on social justice and of the things that are being taught,’’ he said.
“If we’re talking about higher education, isn’t it good?’’
“Whether they’re talking about it positively or negatively, that’s fine if it ends up on The Daily Show,’’ he added.
Thorpe’s proposal would have prohibited the use of public funds at any community college or state university for any course, activity or event that would “promote division, resentment or social justice’’ toward another race, gender, religion, political affiliation or social class.
Also forbidden would be any activities that “negatively target specific nationalities or countries.’’
It would have left it up to the attorney general to determine what falls outside of permitted activities.
The attorney general would have had unilateral power to withhold up to 10 percent of state aid to any institution found in violation.
In proposing the legislation, Republican Thorpe specifically cited a course at Arizona State University entitled “Whiteness and Race Theory.’’
Among the required books is “The Everyday Language of White Racism,’’ described on Google’s website as providing “an incisive analysis of everyday language to reveal the underlying racist stereotypes that continue to circulate in American culture.’’
Thorpe also complained about a voluntary activity at the University of Arizona known as the “privilege walk.’’
It is described in UA literature as helping participants “recognize the privileges that they have been granted and to learn about the backgrounds of their peers.’’
Among the exercises is telling students to step up if they meet certain criteria, like having more than 50 books in a home, going to a private school or having inherited money.
Conversely, those who were raised in a single-parent household, had to rely on public transportation or were ashamed of their clothes while growing up take a step back for each.
Participants are supposed to notice where they are in relation to others.
Thorpe’s legislation got national attention.
Quoting elements of the bill from the original Capitol Media Services story, activist Shaun King wrote a column for the New York Daily News calling the measure “completely and utterly disgusting.’’
“That an aloof lawmaker who wants to actually oversee and monitor individual activities and events to prohibit students and staff from discussing economic and skin privilege in this country is not just petty, it’s deeply problematic,’’ King wrote.