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Purdue Trustees Pass New Civics Literacy Requirements, Some Faculty Say Process Wasn’t Followed

Trustee JoAnn Brouillette at the meeting on Friday (Photo taken from stream)

At the Purdue Board of Trustees Meeting on Friday, trustees passed new civics literacy requirements for students. 

But the new requirements come despite objections from some faculty about how those requirements were passed. 

Alicy Pawley is President of the Purdue West Lafayette Chapter of the American Association of University Professors. She said the faculty senate voted the civics requirements down - but the trustees moved on without approval.

“The senate voted no and therefore this should not have moved forward,” she said. 

Under the new requirements, students will take a low-stakes civics test and complete one of three paths: either taking an approved course, listening to a C-SPAN podcast, or attending civics related events on campus. 

Professor Cara Kinnally is a member of the University Senate. She said it feels like the trustees are going around the senate to implement the requirements. 

“We haven’t even been given the proposal to look at,” she said. “So we requested it numerous times to look at what would be the content exactly of this civics literacy and we weren’t even given the proposal ahead of time.”

Kinnally said she doesn’t oppose the requirements per se, but wishes that the university had included the senate in the process. 

At the meeting, Trustee JoAnn Brouillette said it was important to move the requirements forward. 


“We’ve benefitted from two and a half years of discussion but it’s important to note this won’t be enforced until the graduating class of 2025,” Brouillette said.

In a written statement, Chair of the Board of Trustees Michael Berghoff called the faculty senate a nonproductive and “dysfunctional” organization and noted that Indiana law gave the board authority to enact the new requirements. 

The requirements will take effect for students starting in the Fall of 2021 at the West Lafayette campus, and in the Fall of 2022 for Purdue regional campuses.