Bill aims to pull funds from 'social justice' courses; ASU professors speaking out against HB 2120

Posted at 8:17 AM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 14:29:38-05


A Republican lawmaker's proposal to penalize colleges and universities that teach "ethnic studies" classes won't get a hearing in the Arizona House education committee.

Committee chairman Rep. Paul Boyer confirmed Tuesday evening that fellow Republican Bob Thorpe's bill won't advance. He didn't give a reason and said Thorpe is expected to issue a statement Wednesday.
House Bill 2120 would ban classes Thorpe calls divisive, with violators losing 10 percent of their state funding, The Legislature banned similar classes in K-12 schools seven years ago.
Boyer wouldn't comment on the fate of another Thorpe proposal, House Bill 2119. Thorpe says he's targeting colleges and universities granting in-state tuition to immigrants granted deferred deportation under an Obama Administration policy. It also carries a 10 percent penalty.
Thorpe's proposals were criticized by Democrats.


Arizona State University professors are taking a stand against House Bill 2120, which aims to pull taxpayer state funds from "social justice" classes taught at public colleges. 

Rep. Bob Thorpe, of Flagstaff, is sponsoring the bill. He sponsored similar legislation in the past that banned ethnic studies courses in grades K-12.

The bill targets classes and events with titles like "Removing the Mask of Whiteness." Thorpe says his bill is not an all-out ban for the classes. He says private donors have a right to fund these types of classes but Arizona taxpayers should not have to fund them.

People who are "against the bill want classes that promote resentment toward others and want to foster discrimination," Thorpe wrote in a statement. 

But ASU professors are quickly reacting to the bill. Professor Rashad Shabazz, who is the head of ASU's Social Justice Transformation, says these types of classes are empowering and give a voice to everyone. 

"These courses are not indoctrinating and they do not divide people," said Shabazz. "They ask us to come together and have a conversation and think about the ways in which various people lives their lives and the kind of hurdles they confront."

When asked if these types of classes promote "shame" to a certain race or gender, Shabazz says, "Privilege does exist and no one should feel shame about it. But we should acknowledge it and begin to work toward transforming that privilege so it spreads out to the majority of the population."

The bill will go through several committee hearings over the next few months. Thorpe is encouraging the public to come out and nice their opinions about the bill's language.

Shabazz said he and fellow educators plan to rally together and speak with their legislators about the proposed bill.