Purdue Senate kicks off with update on COVID input, diversity and inclusion amendment

Members of the Senate have been hard at work over the summer helping Purdue prepare to bring back students this semester. It also passed a strong statement supporting People of Color associated with the University.

Posted: Sep 14, 2020 11:14 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The Purdue University Senate gathered via Zoom for its first meeting of the academic school year Monday afternoon. The group will continue to meet virtually and will re-evaluate if they can meet in person again in January.

Health and Human Sciences Professor Deborah Nichols is this year's Senate Chair. She said some members of the Senate have been busy over the summer helping the university put together its Protect Purdue Plan.

She said they sent out three surveys to faculty, staff and students to gauge their concerns about returning this fall. They also contributed to helping rework Purdue's policies to adapt to this COVID-19 era.

According to numbers presented by Purdue President Mitch Daniels during the meeting, 4,579 undergraduate students chose to do virtual learning while 30,543 undergraduates returned to campus. He said about half of the virtual learners are international students. Not surprisingly, this is a record year for Purdue in terms of the number of students learning online.

One of the biggest, and growing, concerns discovered in the surveys was mental health and anxiety about returning to campus. Professor Nichols said the university has acted on that feedback.

"There have been more resources put into both student, faculty and staff mental health resources, which I was most excited about," she said.

She said faculty and graduate students reported feeling burnt out even before the semester started, and that they had trouble separating work life from personal life.

Purdue has mental and emotional health services available to those who work and learn at Purdue. That includes a student help and crisis line at 765-495-HELP (765-495-4357).

Nichols said it is important to the university to protect campus as well as the greater community.

"I also want to make sure that we are doing all that we can to keep not only our Purdue community, but to keep the broader Greater Lafayette community as healthy and protected as possible," she said.

As coronavirus continues to take its toll across the nation, she said it is also adversely affecting People of Color. According to the CDC, Black/African American/Non-Hispanic people have 2.6 times higher chance of catching COVID-19 and 2.1 times higher risk of death compared to White/Non-Hispanic people. Indigenous people and Hispanic/Latinx people also have higher case and death rates.

"There are numerous inequities surrounding COVID and policies put in place," she said. "We need to address those inequities."

The Senate also passed an amendment to its "Commitment to Maintaining an Inclusive Community" statement. The amendment reads:

Purdue University shall actively uphold the values recorded in University Policy III.C.2 through vocal and visible promotion of inclusivity for all Black Boilermakers and other members of our campus community who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and through vocal and visible condemnation of threats that endanger the maintenance of an inclusive community.

Provost Jay Akridge voiced his support in the Senate meeting for this amendment, saying it coincides with the goals of the university's new Equity Task Force.

One member of the Senate's Equity and Diversity Committee voted against this amendment in committee vote. Professor Al Herber said there is no evidence to show threats have happened on campus and there is no language to protect people outside of the "Black, Indigenous, and People of Color" categories. He argued some of the language of the amendment was vague and that it could violate freedom of expression and speech of students.

After he voiced his concerns, various people in the comments of the Zoom call noted the "Black at Purdue" Instagram page, which shares the stories of injustice that happened to anonymous and named Black students, alumni, faculty, staff and graduate students on campus and in the community. The earliest story is from a graduate of the Class of 2007. The page also recently started asking for stories of success and joy Black Boilermakers want to share.

Nichols said it's important to stand by the People of Color at Purdue.

"One of our significant goals is to work to create a safe community for our Black, Brown and Indigenous Boilermakers and so we want to ensure that there voices are heard," she said.

The amendment was supposed to be voted on at the Senate's October meeting. However, Purdue Bands and Orchestra Professor Matt Conaway made the motion to suspend the rules and vote on it then. He said it was clear that there was strong support based on the discussion and votes made by the EDC. 

The Senate did suspend the rules and the amendment was passed 85% in support, 10% against and 5% abstained. 

Chair Nichols said the Senate will have a special session on October 12th to dealt with an "internal discipline matter." She said more would come to light on this matter as that date approaches.

West Lafayette
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: °
Kokomo
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 37°
Rensselaer
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 36°
Fowler
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 36°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
41° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 38°
Crawfordsville
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 41°
Frankfort
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 41°
Delphi
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: °
Monticello
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 43°
Logansport
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 43°
Dry and Cool for Remainder of Weekend.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 157713

Reported Deaths: 4092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion25392789
Lake13805355
St. Joseph9277163
Elkhart8890135
Allen8278230
Hamilton6215113
Vanderburgh588261
Tippecanoe375915
Hendricks3302133
Monroe326638
Porter322049
Johnson3151129
Delaware297074
Clark296762
Vigo264840
Madison240595
LaPorte226658
Cass225522
Warrick195265
Kosciusko187826
Floyd180167
Howard164066
Bartholomew143358
Marshall140026
Dubois139626
Wayne132130
Henry128430
Grant127839
Boone124550
Hancock119944
Noble117434
Jackson114416
Dearborn98028
Morgan94840
Lawrence90837
Daviess89334
Gibson88612
Clinton86716
Shelby83531
LaGrange81015
Knox77410
Harrison77324
Putnam73716
Posey7236
DeKalb72011
Fayette69018
Steuben6338
Miami6305
Jasper6175
White59215
Montgomery59022
Greene55337
Scott52413
Decatur50739
Adams5027
Whitley4636
Clay4537
Ripley4538
Sullivan44414
Wells43511
Wabash4219
Starke4157
Orange40925
Huntington4015
Spencer3956
Washington3783
Franklin37625
Jennings36913
Fulton3653
Randolph3659
Jefferson3435
Pike33518
Carroll32913
Perry32614
Jay3116
Fountain3073
Tipton27823
Vermillion2531
Parke2374
Newton23011
Blackford2193
Rush2184
Owen2071
Martin2000
Crawford1591
Pulaski1562
Brown1433
Ohio1327
Benton1120
Union1110
Switzerland960
Warren841
Unassigned0234

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events