WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The Purdue University Senate began its final meeting of the school year on Monday. The senate meeting began with an update from President Mitch Daniels.
One of the updates is regarding the future of the Patty Jischke Early Care and Education Center. As we previously reported, the university announced earlier this year they intended to close the center and not open a replacement, but parents fought back and the university listened.
The Purdue Trustees approved a plan last Friday to replace the center. President Daniels said they will be building a new building near the corner of Kent and Yeager Roads. It will add about 20% more spots for kids. He said it is expected to be complete in August of 2022.
Next he gave an update on Purdue's vaccination efforts. As we previously reported, Purdue opened up a vaccination site at the Cordova Recreational Sports Center earlier this month. President Daniels said they are making good headway on providing vaccinations on campus.
They have vaccinated more than 17,000 so far, and they expect to have more than 18,000 fully vaccinated by May 15th. Only about 9% of students and staff who responded to a survey said they do not have plans to get vaccinated. He said it is a goal of the university to continue to work to lower that number. Eligibility at the Purdue vaccination clinic is also now expanded to West Lafayette spouses, dependents and retirees.
After his comments, the senators were able to get to work deciding on several resolutions proposed at the March meeting.
One of those was the resolution to add menstruation products in all bathrooms across the West Lafayette campus. This resolution passed.
They also are supporting a "test flexible" policy that pauses the SAT and ACT admission requirements for students applying for the 2022 school year. The university has already made the decision to pause the standardized test requirement for the next incoming freshman class. However, the senate hopes that the university will use this time period to analyze how these students perform, and make the ultimate decision to keep the test flexible policy in place permanently.
The senate members had a lengthy debate on whether to support adding a January term to future school year calendars. The "J-term" schedule would shorten the spring and fall semester from 16 weeks to 15 weeks. It would then take those extra two weeks and combine them with winter break into a four week mini term.
Those for this resolution said it would be a great opportunity for students to work ahead and take advantage of short study abroad programs. Those against it said the irregular schedule could harm summer internship opportunities and could lead to burn out and stress among the staff having to organize classes for the J-term. The senate ultimately voted to approve the resolution, which was amended to say the board supports further study of the J-term, but does not fully endorse the idea at this time.
Finally the senate voted to suspend the rules and vote on a resolution presented on Monday that honors the land Purdue was built on that formerly belonged to Indigenous Peoples.
The resolution proposes that "The Purdue University Senate shall display the following statement on the Senate website and each Senate Meeting should include a recitation of this statement as part of the opening remarks: “The Purdue University Senate acknowledges the traditional homelands of the Indigenous People which Purdue University is built upon. We honor and appreciate the Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi), Lenape (Delaware), Myaamia (Miami), and Shawnee People who are the original Indigenous caretakers.”"
The resolution also supports making tuition to Purdue free for in-state students who are members of federally recognized tribes. And that students from those tribes who are out-of-state students should get in-state tuition. The senate passed the resolution.
Purdue Student Government President Assata Gilmore had several resolutions to present to the senate today, including one that would make presidential election days non-instruction days so that students and faculty have ample opportunity to cast their votes. However, at this point, the senate meeting had been going on for almost three hours and many senator had left the zoom meeting at that point.
Former Senate Chair Cheryl Cooky made it clear she was not happy that PSG's resolutions, which had been approved among their body since October, had taken so long to get consideration before the senate. She apologized to the leaders and members of PSG for, essentially, the lack of respect shown to their work.
The senate ultimately decided it wasn't fair to PSG to present their work to a partial audience and decided to table the rest of the meeting items for two weeks. The senate will reconvene on Monday May 3rd to finish the rest of the April meeting, and to potentially vote on the PSG resolutions.