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Anti-racism march at Purdue

Mike Loizzo
WBAA Radio

More than 200 members of the campus community are raising awareness of racism at Purdue and asking the administration to do something about it.

Monday's march began at the Black Cultural Center and went to the Memorial Mall before ending at the steps of Hovde Hall.

Chris Warren works in the university’s American Studies program and says the impression he got from those watching the march is that people don’t care about the issue.

“There were people along the sides (of the march route), kind of laughing,” he says. “Looking at it with cell phone videos – a lot of giggles, a lot of kind of bewildered faces, but no concern, no care. If anything, that can certainly be a message, you know?”

The Purdue Anti-Racism Coalition is asking President Mitch Daniels to enforce a Zero-Tolerance policy on racist actions; double the number of minority students and faculty; and require an undergraduate course on race and racism, among other things:

1)      Public statements by the Purdue President in print (e.g. newspapers), video (e.g. Purdue endorsed YouTube video), and campus-wide email denouncing the hateful acts by racist vandals.  The President must also articulate a zero tolerance stance against all racist acts.  This demand is to be met by Friday, April 26th, 2013.  If our first demand is not met we will escalate our campaign, specifically creating visibility emphasizing this administration’s apathetic stance towards racial incidents and hate crimes.

2)      Double the number of minority faculty and students over the next ten years.  In reviewing Purdue's data digest, we know that the number of tenure track non-minority faculty is 10% higher than the percentage of tenure track minority faculty on campus.  Additionally, of the 30,694 United States Students enrolled at Purdue, the percentage United States minority students enrolled at Purdue is 17%.

3)      Require an undergraduate course on race and racism for all students, without exception.

4)      Require a mandatory workshop on racially bias incidents called “Racialized Hate Crimes” during Boiler Gold Rush for first-year students to increase awareness about current racial hate crimes happening at Purdue University.

5)      Create explicit policies with regards to racism in the Purdue Code of Conduct to ensure a zero tolerance policy for all bigoted and prejudiced actions.  This includes that all confirmed bigoted and prejudiced actions carry a maximum punishment of expulsion from the university.  In reviewing the Regulations Governing Student Conduct, Disciplinary Proceedings and Appeals, as well as the Student Code of Conduct, there are no explicit policies in dealing with racism or bigoted and prejudiced actions.

6)      Require workshops and procedures for all faculty and staff of all departments, schools, and colleges at Purdue University to ensure compliance with policies regarding race and racism on campus.

7)      Be completely transparent about hate crimes and identify groups and individuals that have committed hate crimes.  This includes reporting hate crimes on the purduenews@purdue.edu email server and all other Purdue alert systems which sends out immediate notices of Purdue University Police investigations occurring on campus or in surrounding areas. 

Daniels was out of town at the time of the demonstration. But he left a written statement for Provost Tim Sands to read, however the crowd that gathered in front of Hovde Hall was not interested in hearing “prepared remarks” as one speaker put it.

The statement by President Daniels:

I apologize that I cannot be on campus with you today. I am in Washington, D.C. chairing a meeting of the National Research Council’s Committee on Human Spaceflight, a longstanding commitment. Everyone I have met at Purdue is committed to maintaining an environment that recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of every person; fosters understanding and mutual respect; and encourages its members to strive to reach their potential. According to the investigating authorities, this was not the intentional act it first appeared to be; but regardless, it presents an opportunity to reaffirm our common commitment to a Purdue environment that is completely respectful of all and not accepting of behavior that falls short of that standard.

The investigation mentioned in Daniels' statement stems from a racist remark written on a mirror at the Black Cultural Center. It turns out the message was written as part of an educational seminar.

Student Alake Myers was one of those who took part in the demonstration. She says the atmosphere at Purdue must change.

Credit Mike Loizzo / WBAA Radio
WBAA Radio
Members of the Purdue Anti-Racism Coalition lead the crowd in chants in front of Hovde Hall.

“I actually sit with people who could potentially hate me. I sit with people who could potentially really want to hurt me, who really want to disrespect me.”

Members of the Coalition say they are organizing a protest at the next Board of Trustees meeting as well.

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