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Daniels proposes U.S. facts exam for Purdue students to graduate

Purdue President Mitch Daniels is presenting a solution to what he calls a disheartening "national phenomenon."

Posted: Jan 31, 2019 1:54 PM
Updated: Jan 31, 2019 6:44 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Purdue President Mitch Daniels is presenting a solution to what he calls a disheartening "national phenomenon." He's proposing the university do something about college students not knowing facts about the United States.

The proposal, presented to the University Senate this week, would add a graduation requirement for Purdue students.

"A government by consent of the governed really needs informed citizens," Daniels told News 18. "We need to know our history."

He's proposing students be required to take a five minute test similar to the United States naturalization exam. Students would know about it when they began at Purdue and would have their entire career to finish it. 

"(There's) no reason that a Boilermaker shouldn't know at least as much as a person immigrating," said Daniels.

The test could include questions like:

-What is a right guaranteed in the First Amendment? (Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly)

-What are the first three words of the constitution? (We the People...)

-What year was the Declaration of Independence adopted? (1776)

"In an ideal world, in a world we once lived in, every young person would know this by the time they left high school," said Daniels. "For reasons we needn't get into, that's just not happening."

If the university is supposedly accepting the best and the brightest, some wonder if this is the way to solve it.

"I'm not sure that this is the appropriate way to do it, just having a list of questions," said Purdue University Senate member David Sanders. "It's a bit insulting to I think that, either international students or domestic students, questions from a citizenship test be what they have to answer in order to graduate."

"I'm all for more civic engagement for our students," Sanders continued. It seems like this might be appropriate for an institution like Purdue University Global. It is completely online and completely dependant on funds from the federal government for loans and grants. Then after a few years, see how it goes and we could be informed at Purdue University how it is proceeded."

"I think we can find a straightforward, non-burdensome, simple way for every Purdue graduate to certify that they know the basics of our civic process," said Daniels. "It's not a matter of people being bright, because our applicants and our enrollees absolutely are. It's not their fault nobody taught them when the Civil War was or how many branches of government there are."

Daniels said he doesn't see why this couldn't be implemented right away. The idea now goes to the University Senate Steering Committee, who will assign it to a smaller group to look at.

If you want to test your skills, you can take a sample United States naturalization exam here.

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