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  • Writer's pictureAction Idaho

Boise State Administration Expels Preacher, Again Affronts Christians on Campus

High-level administrators kick Christian preachers off BSU campus.

Keith A. Darrell, a campus preacher, was forcibly removed from Boise State’s campus and arrested “for trespassing” and for “obstructing and delaying a police officer,” according to public records made available to Action Idaho.

Darrell engaged with students at the Boise State on the quad on August 31 and September 1, 2021. On the first day, according to the public records, Darrell and his fellow preacher Shawn Holes were told to “lower the volume of their gathering so as not to disrupt classes.”

The next day Darrell and Holes were engaging a group of approximately 100 students, according to campus police. Officers judged that the gathering on the quad “made it difficult to walk through the quad.” The question of what to do about the preachers reached the highest levels of Boise State’s administration. Dean of Students Christian Wuhlrich thought that the “gathering had become disruptive of the learning environment.” Dean Wuhlrich consulted Boise State President Marlene Tromp about what to do.

At that point, according to Darrell, the preachers offered a compromise. They would hold smaller meetings to engage students that would lessen the disruption. BSU administration declined this offer. “No, we want you off campus,” was Dean Wulhrich’s reaction, according to Darrell. At that point, to Darrell’s mind, this confrontation was no longer about “carrying on normal school activities” since they had given BSU an alternative to make sure nobody’s pathway through campus was disrupted. It was about expelling the preachers from campus. At this point, Holes voluntarily left the campus, but Darrell remained. Pres. Tromp agreed that the preachers should be removed from campus and excluded from coming on campus for one year.

Darrell protested, saying, according to the incident report, that “it was his right to free speech" and that officers could not remove him as “it was a public space.” Officers continued to follow Pres. Tromp’s preferred course of action, claiming that the outdoor preacher was “disturbing the learning environment.” Officers then wrote Darrell an exclusion order. Darrell began filming the officer. Officers asked for his identification and followed Darrell to his car. Officers asked where his car was, Darrell refused to answer. The officers arrested Darrell for obstructing and delaying a police officer. Darrell was handcuffed and transported to Ada County Jail for booking.

Darrell was processed. Months later he was convicted of trespassing and obstruction. His conviction came with a “deferred dismissal” provision, he says, so that if he stays away from BSU for a year and has no further misdemeanors or felony arrests, the convictions for obstruction and trespassing will not bring with them any additional time or penalties.

Articles in the student newspaper were generally supportive of the university’s actions. Students did not like to be “insulted by these people.” University administration handled the incident with what they called a balanced approach to free speech. While, according to Dean Wuthrich, the university “recognizes and supports the rights to free expression and speech, and remains a place for the broadest expression of views,” it has a “significant interest in preserving its limited space and employee resources” and its anti-harassment policies. Whether BSU would act similarly if pro-abortion speakers gathered on the quad or a BLM group rallied cannot, at this point, be known. Viewpoint discrimination would, of course, put the university on a collision course with the First Amendment.

No local television or newspaper press has covered the story, as far as Action Idaho or Darrell could discover. Keeping the story confined to campus is part of Boise State’s efforts to give the impression that it is a bastion of free inquiry and free speech.

This is the latest episode where Boise State University offended Christians and free speech. In December 2020, Boise State released the team chaplain after atheists from the Freedom from Religion Foundation complained about a post-game prayer between BSU and BYU football teams.


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