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Forum aims at enhancing race relations at Purdue

A group at Purdue is putting together a plan for how to address racism on campus.

The Black Graduate Student Association hosted a race and diversity forum Tuesday on campus.

President Tyrell Connor says the goal was not necessarily to vent frustrations, but come up with ideas for how to resolve the problem.

“The main premise and the main purpose of this particular event, I think, happened," he said.  "That was everybody leaving here with some kind of plan of action, everybody moving forward together to make Purdue a better, more inclusive, better diversity, anti-racism, all the above.”

The forum was organized because of a series of racist events on campus, including one last week in the Krannert Business School library.

The students who wrote it have been identified and the dean’s office is looking into the matter.

It's the second such incident on campus this year.

Monique Smith is the President of the Purdue Black Student Union and was a panelist at the forum.

She says she is proud of how the event pushed progress forward.

"I'm happy that people came with goals in mind rather than just voicing frustrations, which is really one big thing we wanted," said Smith.  

"Sometimes we don't even know where to start when  issues like this happen and they get brushed under the rug and then it escalates into something as large as this incident. So our main purpose was to inform people to what we want to see happen and how we can actually get to that point and I feel like we achieved that tonight."

Connor says the next step is to work with Purdue’s administration to implement the strategies proposed.

"We understand that we can't just sit here and write things down," he said.  

"We understand that we have to bring this to the administration, bring it to their doorstep, and  understand that action must occur or we won't be satisfied.  I hope that's what everyone took away from this message that students have to be active,  the administration has to be active, and  we all have to do our part proactively in order for things to happen."

Some suggestions include more specific language in the university code of conduct addressing race incidents, increasing minority enrollment, a mandatory course on race and diversity for students,and establishing a formal grievance committee.