ASU’s Required Inclusivity Training Violates State Law, Says Goldwater Institute

ASU’s Required Inclusivity Training Violates State Law, Says Goldwater Institute

By Corinne Murdock |

A required biennial training program for Arizona State University (ASU) employees and faculty violates state law, per a complaint letter submitted by the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute.

In a letter to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) on Tuesday, the organization alleged that the ASU Inclusive Communities, a required biennial training program for all employees and faculty, violates a new law passed last year, A.R.S. § 41-1494.

The law prohibits public funding for training that promulgates “blame or judgment on the basis of race, ethnicity or sex.” The department of administration is required to submit an annual report listing all state agencies complying with the law to the governor, the state senate president, the house speaker, and the secretary of state. 

Per the law, “blame or judgment” qualifies as declaring that race, ethnic group, or sex determines inherent moral superiority, racism, sexism, oppression over another race, ethnic group, or sex. It also qualifies as concepts declaring an individual’s race, ethnic group, or sex as definitive of their moral character, endowing responsibility for the actions of others within their shared biological traits, insisting on negative, self-conscious feelings such as guilt or anguish with regard to their biological traits, and meriting discrimination or adverse treatment against them. 

“Blame or judgment” also includes the concept that meritocracy or traits such as hard work are racist, sexist, or created by members of a particular race, ethnic group, or sex to oppress members of another race, ethnic group, or sex. 

In their complaint letter, the Goldwater Institute noted that the ASU training does impart blame or judgment based on race, ethnicity, or sex. 

“The statute makes clear that while the state may, of course, teach that such ideas exist, it may not promulgate these messages of blame or judgment in any official sense, or mandate the participation of employees at any session where these ideas are promulgated,” said the organization. “The ‘ASU Inclusive Communities’ training, however, is premised on the ‘blame or judgment’ referred to in this statute.”

The organization included the following quotes from obtained training materials reportedly promulgating the concepts that white people are inherently privileged, racist, and supremacist, regardless of intent or consciousness, and that heterosexuals are inherently privileged and maintaining power over other “sexual identities”:

  • “[A]cknowledging the history of white supremacy and the social conditions for it to exist as a structural phenomenon”
  • “How is white supremacy normalized in society”
  • “[G]iven the socio-historial [sic] legacy of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of structural inequality, perceptions of authority and control are not always granted to minoritized [sic] faculty.”
  • “White Fragility”
  • “What is White Privilege, Really”
  • “Explaining White privilege to a broke white person […]”
  • “7 Ways White People Can Combat Their Privilege”
  • “Racism […] can take the form of […] and include seemly innocuous questions or comments, such as asking people of color where they are from […]”
  • “Sexual identities are linked to power, and heterosexuality, the dominant sexual identity in American culture, is privileged by going on largely unquestioned.”
  • “[I]t scares people to talk about white supremacy or to be called a white supremacist. But if we start thinking about it in terms of whiteness as something that is culturally neutral and we’re moving it from that neutral space into a critical space.”
  • “[W]e have to open the space to critique whiteness.”
  • “[W]hite supremacy […] referring to here is the period between the 1500’s and the 1800’s that encompasses both Spanish colonization and Euro-American colonization. And what colonization did, was it really created this system of binary thinking. There were folks that were inherently good and folks that were inherently bad, and that led to the systems of superiority that were then written into the foundational documents of our Nation.”

The Goldwater Institute requested ABOR to direct ASU to cease spending any public monies on its Inclusive Communities training, or make the training optional rather than mandatory.

Additionally, the organization suggested that ABOR audit ASU’s other courses and the activities and courses of the University of Arizona (UArizona) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) to ensure compliance. As examples of potential anti-discriminatory violations, the organization linked to the UArizona Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion trainings, the UArizona Eller College of Management Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training, and the NAU employee and faculty training.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

ASU Leaders Quiet On Allegations Of Retaliation By Ex-Employee

ASU Leaders Quiet On Allegations Of Retaliation By Ex-Employee

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona State University (ASU) leaders accused of retaliation by a former employee for hosting two “faith-based” events have kept quiet on the allegations raised against them.

The former events operator of the ASU Gammage theater alleged retaliation in a letter last week to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) for allowing “faith-based” events to take place.

The complainant, Lin Blake, alleged in a timeline spanning six pages that she had only received positive performance reviews for the nearly three years leading up to the controversial events. It wasn’t until January, the month leading up to the controversial events, that Blake faced challenges to her work performance. Blake allegedly experienced unprecedented scrutiny throughout the planning, preparation, production, and post-event processes concerning the event, though she noted the event was approved last fall. 

“This marked the beginning of the micromanagement of my duties and the overall hostile work environment that would become my future,” stated Blake. 

AZ Free News reached out to each of the individuals allegedly behind the intimidation campaign and punitive measures against Blake regarding the controversial events. None of them responded by press time. 

One of the controversial events, hosted by the now-dissolved T.W. Lewis Center at Barrett Honors College, featured conservative speakers Charlie Kirk, president and founder of activist group Turning Point USA; Dennis Prager, radio host and founder of PragerU; and Robert Kiyosaki, a personal finance book bestseller and PragerU presenter. 

The other controversial event, hosted by Bethel Chandler Church, focused on raising awareness for sex trafficking.

Ahead of the events, Blake alleged that ASU Gammage leadership convened a meeting to express concern that she was allowing a “church program” and “white supremacists” to have a platform at their theater. She also alleged enduring public condemnation and boycotting from her colleagues.

“While I was left with the obligation to run two large and high-profile events, my colleagues that did not show up to work received praise for standing by their personal beliefs,” said Blake. “ASU Gammage staff and leadership should not discriminate against any views, yet they did in plain sight.”

In addition to the accusations of supporting white supremacy, AZ Free News reported previously that Gammage Executive Director Colleen Jennings-Roggensack was alleged to have told staff that they were aligned in beliefs, that they all had voted for President Joe Biden and Gov. Katie Hobbs — even if they hadn’t.

At a faculty and leadership meeting following the upbraiding from Jennings-Roggensack, Blake said she was singled out to explain Gammage’s core values. 

Blake further alleged that two ASU Dean of Students representatives breached security to enter a restricted backstage area and intimidate former Lewis Center director Ann Atkinson.

“[I]f speech was truly free at ASU, producing events with unpopular viewpoints would not have cost my job. There is no freedom of speech when it comes with the punishment of job loss for those who administer it,” wrote Blake.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

House Democrats Attempted To Kill Bill Addressing Teacher Shortage

House Democrats Attempted To Kill Bill Addressing Teacher Shortage

By Corinne Murdock |

On Tuesday, House Democrats attempted to kill a Republican-introduced bill to address the teacher shortage.

The bill, HB2428, would allow private universities and colleges to participate in and receive funding from the Arizona Teachers Academy (ATA). Reimbursements for academy scholarships would be capped at the average in-state tuition and fees determined by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR): currently, about $7,100. The four Democratic members of the House Education Committee opposed the bill.

The bill sponsor, State Rep. Matt Gress (R-LD04), said that there are thousands of students seeking an educational degree currently, noting approximately 3,000 qualified students at Grand Canyon University alone. Gress cited data that approximately 80 percent of these types of students go on to teach in public schools, but not necessarily in Arizona. Gress argued that they should be pulled into Arizona ones.

“It represents a state commitment to addressing our teacher workforce shortage,” said Gress.

ATA helps pay for tuition and fees for state university or community college students, with the contingency that these students commit to one year of teaching in an Arizona public school. 


Over 3,300 individuals were enrolled in the ATA last year, the largest class since its creation in 2017 under former Gov. Doug Ducey. Enrollment for the past five years totaled nearly 9,300. Scholarships totaled $22.7 million, averaging $7,100 each. Gress’ proposed expansion of the ATA to private institutions may cost an additional $17 million. The ATA funds student-teachers across 16 different graduate and undergraduate programs.

The teacher shortage may soon worsen: over 20,000 teachers qualified for retirement last year, according to the Arizona State Retirement System.

Committee Democrats admitted that the state’s ongoing teacher shortage is urgent. However, they disagreed that public dollars should go into private institutions.

State Rep. Judy Schwiebert (D-LD02) said the state should prioritize public institution students over private ones. She expressed concern that expanding ATA eligibility would disrupt the current waitlist of public university students.

“I feel like our priority needs to be with our public schools that need to be held accountable, and if they’re going to be accountable we need to make sure that we’re providing the funding for them to be able to train as many teachers as they have applications for, and right now they don’t,” said Schwiebert. “We need to make it a priority to further invest in our institutions before we send any money, or if we even should send any money to a private institution that doesn’t require any accountability from the state.”

State Rep. Nancy Gutierrez (D-LD18) concurred, arguing that it wasn’t appropriate to use public funds for private institutions. Gutierrez said the teacher shortage wasn’t due to a lack of accessibility to programs like ATA, it was teachers enduring purportedly low pay and disrespect.

State Rep. Laura Terech (D-LD04) said she didn’t believe this bill was a long-term solution for the shortage.

“I have a fundamental problem with sending public money to private institutions,” said Terech.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

By Corinne Murdock |

Last week, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) approved over $2.4 million in salaries and bonuses for all three presidents of the state’s public universities — making them among the highest paid public employees in the state.

Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow received a pay raise of over $38,500, bringing his base salary to over $809,800, as well as a $90,000 bonus. Crow also receives perks: housing, a vehicle allowance, and retirement contributions. ABOR extended his contract through June 2027. 

Northern Arizona University (NAU) President José Luis Cruz Rivera received the largest pay raise of $61,800, bringing his base salary to $576,800, as well as a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025. 

University of Arizona (UArizona) President Robert Robbins received a pay raise of over $37,700, bringing his base salary to over $792,200. Robbins also received a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025 as well. 

The three presidents’ bonuses were contingent on the achievement of various at-risk goals. 

Crow met all three at-risk goals: a strategy to address educational gaps in the state, a plan for the launch of at least one of the five Future Science and Technology Centers in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and clarifying and documenting the expectations for relationships among ASU’s Teaching, Learning, and Knowledge Enterprises.

For Crow, an additional $150,000 in at-risk compensation goals were proposed for next year, each worth $50,000 if met: design and launch a premium brand for ASU online; develop and launch a plan to move the three core brands of the W.P. Carey School of Business, the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the Barrett Honors College into three global brands; and design and launch a new Health Futures Strategy that includes a holistic approach around health sciences and launch preparations for the Public Health Technology School. 

Crow also has five at-risk compensation goals through 2024 worth an additional $160,000. These goals will require Crow to demonstrate increased enrollment and student success in adaptive learning courses by offering over 15 courses, with an increase in overall course completion to over 80 percent; increase enrollment of Arizona students and number of graduates by over 10 percent; complete the design of the Global Futures Library with engagement of over 700 faculty members, as well as merge the three schools of the College of Global Futures; build and document enhanced regional collaboration in research; and demonstrate substantial expansion of ASU Digital Prep to at least 150 in-state schools, predominantly rural and underperforming schools.

Cruz Rivera also had three at-risk goals, which he met: a leadership team for NAU, restructured pricing and financial aid along with marketing and recruiting, and a set of goals and objectives to rebrand NAU.

For the upcoming year, Cruz Rivera has $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals aligned with the rebranding and restructuring efforts at NAU, each worth $45,000. Cruz Rivera must develop and implement a “New NAU System” to encompass in-person, online, and hybrid learning modalities, branch campuses, community college partnerships, and engagement with the state’s K-12 system. Cruz Rivera must also transform NAU Online, as well as increase enrollments and enhance career preparation opportunities.

Through 2024, Cruz Rivera is tasked with $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals, each worth $30,000. Cruz Rivera must expand the number of students from working-class families, increase overall graduation rates, and narrow completion gaps for working-class, first-generation, and minority groups; expand the Allied Health Programs and traditional NAU programs into Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma counties as well as distributed learning centers outside these three counties; and increase NAU profile, visibility, and programs for both Latino and Native American communities throughout the state and nationwide.

Robbins also met his three at-risk goals for this year: a new budget model that reduced college and department overhead costs by at least $10 million, a strategy to raise attainment in southern Arizona, and progress toward creating a Center for Advanced Immunology at the PBC.

In the coming year, Robbins faces $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals: secure at least $200 million in initial funding commitment from the state, local government, or private donors by next June for the Center for Advanced Molecular Immunotherapies; develop a plan to centralize responsibility and balance local authority in the university-wide administrative functional areas of Information Technology and Financial and Business Services by next June; and complete the transition of the UArizona Global Campus as an affiliated partner to its final stage under the full authority and oversight of UArizona by next June. 

Then, Robbins faces $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals through the end of 2024: increasing retention by 85.5 percent; leveraging the Washington office of UArizona to increase federal research funding by 10 percent; progressing toward enhancing student experience and outcomes of the UArizona Global Campus; implementing an Information Technology security governance framework; and coordinating a collaborative relationship with ASU and NAU that raises the research potential of the UArizona College of Medicine Phoenix. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

NAU Proposed Students Take 12 ‘Diversity’ Credits, Hides Website Following Backlash

NAU Proposed Students Take 12 ‘Diversity’ Credits, Hides Website Following Backlash

By Corinne Murdock |

Northern Arizona University (NAU) students will have to take a 12-credit general studies program focused on diversity. Following initial reports on their plans, NAU hid the DCCC page behind a university login page. (Archived link here). In doing so, they also blocked access to links leading to the DCCC meeting dates, agendas, and minutes; diversity requirements; how individuals could propose a “Diversity Designation” course; and an outline of their curriculum creation and review processes. 

The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) approved NAU’s new diversity program last October.

It appears that NAU shielded the DCCC website from the public eye after City Journal reported about the new diversity curriculum. A web cache of the page taken on May 14 allows individuals to see the DCCC website, not an NAU login page. City Journal issued their report on May 24, offering an in-depth assessment on how NAU’s aim for the program was to only include critical theory’s definition of diversity.

NAU also removed DCCC’s notes (archived here) from last September that acknowledged how the level of ambition the undertaking demands. Yet, the DCCC projected that it would cause NAU to take the lead on their competition. 

 “The 12 credits of diversity requirements are unprecedented and puts [sic] NAU at the forefront of higher education,” read the notes.

The initiative is the latest from the Diversity Curriculum Committee (DCC) formed by NAU’s Faculty Senate. The committee declared in their proposal that NAU is lacking in diversity requirements. (Archived link here). 

The DCC explained that students will be required to take three credits in each of the following areas: U.S. Ethnic Diversity, Global Diversity, Indigenous Peoples, and Intersectionality. Within those areas, there will be focuses catered to the arts and humanities, scientific literacy and methods, and social and political worlds. 

More won’t just be required of the students; the DCC proposed that NAU hire a director for the new diversity program; increase hires in Ethnic Studies, Applied Indigenous Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies; establish retention mechanisms for faculty engaged in “diversity objectives;” create a faculty learning community focused on diversity; create a faculty professional development program on diversity curriculum; hire a Chief Diversity Officer; ensure course releases or other compensation for female and minority faculty; require faculty to engage in more diversity work and challenges; and establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program within each college in NAU.

NAU plans to initiate a soft launch of their revamped diversity program this fall, with a full launch in fall 2023. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to